Conifer Translational Genomics Network - Coordinated Agricultural Project (CTGN - CAP)

» Description

The Conifer Translational Genomics Network Coordinated Agricultural Project (CTGN CAP) is an integrated research, education, and extension project aimed at maintaining or restoring healthy forests and ecosystems by bringing genomic-assisted breeding to applications in the United States. It is a multi-state, multi-institution project, funded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA, formerly CSREES) and the USDA Forest Service. The CTGN draws from or delivers to virtually all conifer genomics scientists and tree breeders in the United States.

In its first two years, the Project was funded by the CSREES National Research Initiative. Following reorganization at USDA, the third and fourth years are being funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - AFRI.

» AFRI Proposal

The components of the CTGN proposal to USDA AFRI are available as pdf files here.

» Objectives

The CTGN CAP project is guided by six objectives:

1. Validate SNP by quantitative trait associations (discovered under prior USDA and NSF funding) in operational tree improvement populations of loblolly pine, slash pine, and Douglas-fir.

The CTGN team seeks to marshal two decades of genetic and genomic research experience and tool development and the collective resources of four tree improvement cooperatives to validate marker/trait associations discovered in natural populations of forest trees.

2. Identify and economically evaluate methods for incorporating marker-assisted selection into conifer tree breeding programs.

We use the tree improvement cycle of selection, breeding, testing and production to identify specific marker informed breeding opportunities in recurrent selection breeding systems and use a powerful risk modeling program (Semitar) to economically evaluate approaches.

3. Develop databases (TreeGenes) and web-based tools (Dendrome) to facilitate all aspects of the Project.

Project outcomes are being delivered directly to breeders and documented in databases maintained on the web at the Dendrome/TreeGenes and DiversiTree sites (

4. Develop an international conifer genetic stock center.

Molecular biology resources and regents for conifers developed over the years (cDNA libraries and clones, BAC libraries and clones, mapping and association population DNAs, and PCR primer sets) will be curated along with clonal tree archives to form a conifer genetic stock center.

5. Create and implement an education plan for undergraduate and graduate curriculum development in genomics-based breeding in forest trees.

We have developed and delivered genomics-based breeding courses and seek to create user-friendly teaching modules for use at the undergraduate and graduate levels. CTGN offers an annual week-long shortcourse on genomics-based breeding in forest trees.

6. Develop and deploy an extension curriculum for continuing education in genomics-based breeding for practicing tree breeders and forest tree gene-resource managers.

The CTGN team members are simultaneously the drivers behind the project's science, the immediate target of extension, and the platform for delivering education and more distributed extension materials. Project results are immediately transferred to tree breeders through our quarterly newsletters, our on-line resources, annual presentations to cooperative members and staff, and our annual shortcourse.