Genetic improvement of white spruce mechanical wood traits-early screening by means of acoustic velocity
Lenz P., Auty D., Achim A., Beaulieu J., Mackay J.
There is a growing interest to use acoustic sensors for selection in tree breeding to ensure high wood quality of future plantations. In this study, we assessed acoustic velocity as a selection trait for the improvement of mechanical wood properties in two 15-and 32-year-old white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench.] Voss) genetic tests. Individual heritability of acoustic velocity was moderate and of the same magnitude as heritability of wood density. Considerable genetic gain could be expected for acoustic velocity and a measure combining velocity and wood density. The relationship between acoustic velocity and cellulose microfibril angle (MFA) was strong on the genetic level and selection based on velocity could effectively improve MFA, which is one of the most important determinants of wood mechanical properties. Although low, the positive relationship between acoustic velocity and tree height presents an interesting opportunity for the improvement of both tree growth and wood quality. On the phenotypic level, MFA was more strongly correlated to acoustic velocity in mature trees than in young trees. The addition of easily obtainable traits such as diameter at breast height (DBH), height-to-diameter ratio as well as wood density to velocity determinations could improve models of MFA at the young and the mature age. We conclude that juvenile acoustic velocity is an appropriate trait to select for wood quality in a tree breeding context. © 2013 by the authors.