ADEPT Overview

The goal of this project is to develop an infrastructure for identifying alleles at candidate gene loci that can be used to greatly accelerate loblolly pine tree improvement. If selection could be based directly on the alleles in superior trees, the rate of genetic improvement could be accelerated.

The strategy we will employ is to associate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found within candidate genes with phenotypic values for three groups of economically-important and biologically-divergent traits: wood properties, disease resistance, and responses to water deficits after planting.

Realizing that identification of candidate genes controlling economic traits is the critical first step in our approach, we will identify genes based on their function in pine and model systems, and based on their co-location with QTLs on the loblolly pine genetic map. Gene expression arrays and detailed phenotypic analyses on a suite of complex traits will help to reveal the biological basis of SNP-phenotype associations.

This is a comprehensive project that directly involves nine researchers at four universities, and five research cooperatives comprised of over thirty forest products companies. The scale of this project is unprecedented in pine. To capture maximum value, we have established an aggressive, coordinated technology transfer and outreach plan to:

  1. Ensure application of research results in industry;
  2. Make all information and resources available to the scientific community;
  3. Extend information to non-industrial forest landowners throughout the southern forest ecosystem.