ClimateDT: A Global Scale-Free Dynamic Downscaling Portal for Historic and Future Climate Data

A new article in Environments explores the Climate Downscaling Tool (ClimateDT), commissioned in B4EST. The tool is useful for natural and earth science researchers across Europe, for accessing a large range of climate related data for specific latitude and longitude locations, or for accessing gridded data for given areas.

Statistical downscaling of climate data has been widely described in the literature, with the aim of improving the reliability of local climatic parameters from coarse-resolution (often >20 km) global datasets. In this article, we present ClimateDT, a dynamic downscaling web tool for monthly historical and future time series at a global scale. The core of ClimateDT is the 1 km 1981–2010 climatology from CHELSA Climate (version 2.1), where the CRU-TS layers for the period 1901-current are overlayed to generate a historic time series. ClimateDT also provides future scenarios from CMIP5 using UKCP18 projections (rcp2.6 and rcp8.5) and CMIP6 using 5 GCMs, also available on the CHELSA website. The system can downscale the grids using a dynamic approach (scale-free) by computing a local environmental lapse rate for each location as an adjustment for spatial interpolation. Local predictions of temperature and precipitation obtained by ClimateDT were compared with climate time series assembled from 12,000 meteorological stations, and the Mean Absolute Error (MAE) and the explained variance (R2) were used as indicators of performance. The average MAEs for monthly values on the whole temporal scale (1901–2022) were around 1.26 °C for the maximum monthly temperature, 0.80 °C for the average monthly temperature, and 1.32 °C for the minimum monthly temperature. Regarding monthly total precipitation, the average MAE was 19 mm. As for the proportion of variance explained, average R2 values were always greater than 0.95 for temperatures and around 0.70 for precipitation due to the different degrees of temporal autocorrelation of precipitation data across time and space, which makes the estimation more complex. The elevation adjustment resulted in very accurate estimates in mountainous regions and areas with complex topography and substantially improved the local climatic parameter estimations in the downscaling process. Since its first release in November 2022, more than 1300 submissions have been processed. It takes less than 2 min to calculate 45 locations and around 8 min for the full dataset (512 records).

Marchi M, Bucci G, Iovieno P, Ray D (2024). ClimateDT: A Global Scale-Free Dynamic Downscaling Portal for Historic and Future Climate Data. Environments (MDPI) 11 (4), 2024.

Trade-offs and Trait Integration in Tree Phenotypes: Consequences for the Sustainable Use of Genetic Resources

A new review in Current Forestry Reports synthesises current knowledge on trade-offs among traits in key fitness dimensions and identifies major research gaps with the intention of laying the groundwork for a rapid advance in tree breeding for multiple objectives as a key contribution to the sustainability of planted forests in the future.

Trade-offs among growth, reproduction, defence, stress tolerance and product quality predicted theoretically have been reported experimentally in many breeding programmes. Among these trade-offs, the genetic linkage between resistance against biotic threats and growth (or other relevant traits) is particularly critical for the current and future management of forest genetic resources. Maintaining tree growth and wood quality in the novel environments of the future requires the assessment of genetic correlations of target traits with phenology, closely linked to survival to temperature extremes. Improving our current knowledge on the genetic trade-offs of drought tolerance as a breeding objective in forest trees obligates a more precise definition of both the specific traits and the experimental conditions. Published evidence suggests that common target traits in breeding programmes may trade-off with reproductive success and fire-adaptation, and the simultaneous improvement of growth and wood quality traits still remains as a constraint in traditional tree breeding.

Changing environments combined with pests and diseases are challenging plantation forestry worldwide, which implies an urgent need to develop new improvement strategies to build the resilience of forestry for our future environments. It is essential to have a better understanding of how traits interact, especially those important for production, climate and biotic threat resilience, but much of the information is still missing. Since many key trade-offs are affected by the environment, we need new studies under novel environments to forecast levels of multi-trait integration in breeding populations.

Jose Climent, Ricardo Alía, Katri Karkkainen, Catherine Bastien, Marta Benito-Garzon, Laurent Bouffier, Giovanbattista De Dato, Sylvain Delzon, Arnaud Dowkiw, Margarita Elvira-Recuenco, Delphine Grivet, Santiago C. González-Martínez, Haleh Hayatgheibi, Sonja Kujala, Jean-Charles Leplé, Ruth C. Martín-Sanz, Marina de Miguel, M. Cristina Monteverdi, Sven Mutke, Christophe Plomion, José Alberto Ramírez-Valiente, Leopoldo Sanchez, Aida Solé-Medina, Jean-Paul Soularue, Arne Steffenrem, Angela Teani, Johan Westin, Richard Whittet, Harry Wu, Rafael Zas & Stephen Cavers. Trade-offs and Trait Integration in Tree Phenotypes: Consequences for the Sustainable Use of Genetic Resources. Curr. For. Rep. (2024).

Prospects for evolution in European tree breeding

Genetically improved forest reproductive materials are now widely accessible in many European countries due to decades of continuous breeding efforts. Tree breeding does not only contribute to higher-value end products but allows an increase in the rate of carbon capture and sequestration, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The usefulness of breeding programmes depends on (i) the relevance of the set of selected traits and their relative weights (growth, drought tolerance, phenology, etc.); (ii) the explicit management of targeted and “neutral” diversity; (iii) the genetic gain achieved; and (iv) the efficiency of transferring diversity and gain to the plantation. Several biological factors limit both operational breeding and mass reproduction.

To fully realise the potential of tree breeding, the introduction of new technologies and concepts is pivotal for overcoming these constraints. We reviewed several European breeding programmes, examining their current status and factors that are likely to influence tree breeding in the coming decades. The synthesis was based on case studies developed for the B4EST project, which focused on eight economically important tree species with breeding histories and intensities ranging from low-input breeding (stone pine, Douglas-fir and ash) to more complex programmes (eucalyptus, maritime pine, Norway spruce, poplar, and Scots pine).

Fugeray-Scarbel A, Bouffier L, Lemarié S, Sánchez L, Alia R, Biselli C, Buiteveld J, Carra A, Cattivelli L, Dowkiw A, Fontes L, Fricano A, Gion J-M, Grima-Pettenati J, Helmersson A, Lario F, Leal L, Mutke S, Nervo G, Persson T, Rosso L, Smulders MJM, Steffenrem A, Vietto L, Haapanen M (2024). Prospects for evolution in European tree breeding. iForest 17: 45-58. –

Adaptive potential of maritime pine under contrasting environments

A new publication in BMC Plant Biology analyses the adaptive potential of maritime pine.

Predicting the adaptability of forest tree populations under future climates requires a better knowledge of both the adaptive significance and evolvability of measurable key traits. Phenotypic plasticity, standing genetic variation and degree of phenotypic integration shape the actual and future population genetic structure, but empirical estimations in forest tree species are still extremely scarce. We analysed 11 maritime pine populations covering the distribution range of the species (119 families and 8 trees/family, ca. 1300 trees) in a common garden experiment planted at two sites with contrasting productivity. We used plant height as a surrogate of fitness and measured five traits (mean and plasticity of carbon isotope discrimination, specific leaf area, needle biomass, Phenology growth index) related to four different strategies (acquisitive economics, photosynthetic organ size, growth allocation and avoidance of water stress).

Contrary to the expectations in a drought tolerant species, our study suggests that variation in traits related to photosynthetic organ size and acquisitive investment of resources drive phenotypic selection across and within maritime pine populations. Both genetic variation and evolvability of key adaptive traits were considerably high, including plasticity of water use efficiency. These characteristics would enable a relatively fast micro-evolution of populations in response to the ongoing climate changes. Moreover, differentiation among populations in the studied traits would increase under the expected more productive future Atlantic conditions.

Alía, R., Climent, J., Santos-del-Blanco, L. et al. Adaptive potential of maritime pine under contrasting environments. BMC Plant Biol 24, 37 (2024).

A demo-genetic model shows how silviculture reduces natural density-dependent selection in tree populations

We developed an individual-based demo-genetic forest model, LUBERON2, to investigate the combined effects of genetic diversity, management scenarios and disturbance regimes on stand performance and evolution.

In many forests, fisheries and other semi-natural ecosystems, human interventions interfere with natural evolutionary processes. Previous studies provided evidence of direct or indirect anthropogenic selection in such systems. Here, we simulated random tree thinning scenarios, i.e. without anthropogenic selection.

We show that the evolutionary rates predicted by the model fit in the range of observed values in wild plant and animal populations. The primary impact of random tree thinning is to partially substitute anthropogenic selection for natural selection: (i) by changing stand structure throughout the forestry cycle, the forester reduces the intensity of natural density-dependent selection processes; (ii) the composition of the reproducing population results from forester’s choice and not only from natural selection. Thus, even presumed “neutral” population management still has non-neutral evolutionary consequences.

Godineau, C., Fririon, V., Beudez, N., de Coligny, F., Courbet, F., Ligot, G., Oddou-Muratorio, S., Sanchez, L., Lefèvre, F. (2023). A demo-genetic model shows how silviculture reduces natural density-dependent selection in tree populations. Evolutionary Applications,

The model can be used for research, training and education or demonstration with a user-friendly graphical mode. More information at:

Innovation in forest tree genetics: A comparative economic analysis in the European context

A new publication in Forest Policy and Economics analyses innovation in European forest tree breeding on the basis of four case studies (eucalyptus in Portugal, maritime pine in France, and Norway spruce in Sweden and Finland), using a conceptual framework combining the innovation system approach and the economics of innovation. The publication is based on the work carried out in B4EST.

Aline Fugeray-Scarbel, Xavier Irz, Stéphane Lemarié. Innovation in forest tree genetics: A comparative economic analysis in the European contextForest Policy and Economics, Volume 155, October 2023, 103030.


  • Several generations of improved forest trees have been deployed over the last decades
  • Genetic improvement in the studied countries is based on a structurally sound system of innovation
  • Forest tree breeding suffers from both market and systemic failures.
  • Private investment in forest tree breeding occurs if the industry is vertically integrated
  • Public funding for and direct provision of breeding programmes is paramount

Close-to-nature forestry and intensive forestry – Two response patterns of forestry professionals towards climate change adaptation

A new publication in Forest Policy and Economics analyses how forestry professionals in 9 European countries perceive climate change effects and adaptation strategies. The publication is based on the work carried out in B4EST’s WP5.

Dennis Roitsch, Silvia Abruscato, Marko Lovrić, Marcus Lindner, Christophe Orazio, Georg Winkel. Close-to-nature forestry and intensive forestry – Two response patterns of forestry professionals towards climate change adaptationForest Policy and Economics, Volume 154, 2023, 103035.

  • We observe a North-South gradient in climate change perceptions, with Northern Europe perceiving effects as less severe.
  • We find particularly negative perceptions in Germany likely influenced by the extreme summer drought of 2018.
  • We distinguish two main climate change adaptation approaches: close-to-nature forestry and intensive forestry.
  • These 2 adaptation approaches hold significantly different promise for the provision of multiple forest ecosystem services.

2023 EU AgriResearch Conference

The 2023 EU AgriResearch Conference takes place in Brussels on 31 May and 1 June 2023.

This year’s edition will give participants the opportunity to engage with scientists, farmers, rural communities, industry, advisors, policymakers, citizens and NGO representatives. It will provide an overview of European research and innovation activities and their achievements in agriculture, forestry and rural development. Participants will also be invited to share their views on how to shape the future EU agricultural research and innovation agenda.

The breakout session 4 (Sustainable management for multifunctional forests) will take place on 01. June (10:00-12:00).

This breakout session will explore what research and innovation is needed to foster the sustainable management of forests so that they can deliver on their different functions.


Registration ends 1 May. More information:

Let’s talk about planted forests: tree breeding

Read a short update from the session in the IUFRO newsletter:

IEFC’s Let’s talk about Planted Forests webinar on tree breeding will take place on 13 January 2023 at 1pm CET.

During this webinar B4EST project partners will comment on the main outcomes of the project that finished in 2022. This webinar will be an opportunity to discuss how tree breeding’s new tools can help to better adapt forest plantations to global change, what are the deployment recommendations and tools developed during the project, and the legal issues and policy needs identified.

To discuss this subject, the IEFC invited 3 experts. Here’s a quick overview of the speakers and topics:

  • Mats Berlin, SKOGFORSK: ”Better selection of forest reproductive material (FRM) – now and in the future”
  • Egbert Beuker, LUKE: “Legal barriers and policy needs for marketing improved forest reproductive material (FRM) in Europe”
  • Catherine Bastien, INRAE

More information and register

Transformative changes in tree breeding for resilient forest restoration

A new publication in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change reviews the work of the B4EST project to show the opportunities from transformative tree breeding in forest restoration schemes .

Ray D, Berlin M, Alia R, Sanchez L, Hynynen J, González-Martinez S and Bastien C (2022) Transformative changes in tree breeding for resilient forest restoration. Front. For. Glob. Change 5:1005761.

Deciding how to establish woodland in forest restoration is not straightforward as different outcomes may be obtained from different establishment approaches, each with cost implications and degree of success limitations attached. Planning restoration requires knowledge of site conditions, including how sites are likely to respond under climate change. For objectives of production and high timber quality it is likely that ground preparation will be used, and planting with forest reproductive material (FRM) of known traits, such as: high survival and growth in establishment, drought tolerance adequate for climate projections, good resistance to pests and pathogens. For objectives associated with biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water supply protection, soil protection, natural regeneration could be a less costly solution with a limited amount of assisted translocation of selected FRM to improve resilience. If objectives are for rewilding forest areas, a degree of natural colonisation perhaps with translocation of some FRM could be a solution. Ignoring site conditions and suitability of available sources of FRM for forest restoration is likely to provide unexpected results with a mix of open ground, scrub and scattered trees resulting from climate, herbivore, and browsing impacts.

The recent B4EST EU Horizon 2020 project examined progress in novel rapid approaches for testing the quality of FRM from existing genetic trials. Here we review the work of B4EST to show the opportunities from transformative tree breeding in forest restoration schemes, including: new climate projection ensembles at high temporal and spatial resolution to develop norms of reaction and transfer models with genetic components; multi-environment genotype-phenotype associations and multi-locus genotype-environment associations in identifying drivers of local adaptation; techniques for genomic selection using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays to derive functional traits from polygenic associations; work on seed orchard site and climate specific FRM and zones for deployment; and work on some of the forest ecosystem service benefits derived at a landscape scale. We conclude that tree-breeding will provide robust forest restoration for planting, and rewilding (assisted natural regeneration), and if not “ignoring” but instead assisting natural colonisation processes – tree breeding may improve long-term forest resilience under environmental change.

Read more

B4EST policy brief published

The new B4EST policy brief looks at how forest tree breeding can contribute to EU policies, and sets out how forest tree breeding deployment and forest management can be a key tool for reaching the EU Green Deal goals.

The policy brief explores what challenges lie ahead for the future, and makes recommendations as to what policy changes are needed.

This policy brief produced by the B4EST project highlights the importance of forest tree breeding to support the EU Forest Strategy, Green Deal goals and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The technique, methods and tools of tree breeding are imported from agriculture, and, in forestry, have been actively developed and adapted during the last century. Forest tree breeding has a high potential not only to contribute to mitigating climate change (for example enabling the selection of faster-growing trees), but also assists the adaptation of European forests to climate change. This serves the bioeconomy, ensuring forests continue to provide a wide range of products and services, and also facilitates landscape restoration after major ecological disasters.

Climate change can increase forest vulnerability to damage and disease, reduce forest health and productivity, and cause economic losses. B4EST’s goal is to increase jointly forest survival, health, resilience and productivity under these circumstances, while maintaining genetic diversity and key ecological functions, and fostering a competitive EU bio-based economy.

•What is forest tree breeding, where and how is it used?
•Why is it important in a global change context?
•How does it support EU Green Deal, forest strategy and biodiversity policies?
•What policies regulate its use?
•What challenges lie ahead?
•What policy changes are needed?

Download the policy brief to find out more!

B4EST Nordic policy brief published

The forest sector is of great importance for the economy of the Nordic countries as well as for the supply of wood resources in the EU. Almost 30% of the European forest area and nearly 20% of the growing stock of European forests is in Finland, Sweden, and Norway (State of Europe’s Forests, 2015). Socioeconomic importance of forest is even more significant in Finland and in Sweden. These two countries produce almost 30% of sawn goods, and 60% of pulp for paper and paperboard in the EU and generates over 110 000 direct jobs.

The B4EST Nordic policy brief focuses on specific challenges for the Nordic region, and provides recommendations for FRM management and transnational cooperation.

Download the Nordic policy brief

B4EST final meeting

The final meeting of the B4EST project will take place online on 20-21 September. This is a closed event for B4EST partners and External Advisory Board.

The first day is dedicated to the presentation of results, their dissemination and impacts. The second day will focus on reporting activities, project dissemination and legacy.

International conference brings together researchers, stakeholders and policymakers

The B4EST International Conference, Managing Forest Genetic Resources (FGR) for an Uncertain Future, was held on 20-23 June 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia.

It was organised by IEFC and INRAE, with support from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, and brought together forest researchers, stakeholders and policymakers for two days of in-depth discussions, followed by a field trip to Altriflorestal to learn about eucalyptus.

Discussions focused on:

Accelerating breeding to cope with new challenges and an uncertain future

Forest genetic resources (FGR) and adaptation to climate change

The forests we want: deployment of forest reproductive material (FRM) for forest-based solutions

Science policy interface for mitigation, adaptation and risk management in forestry

Contributions from young scientists within the project were welcomed and featured: they acted as co-chairs for scientific sessions, and gave several flash talks and short presentations.

You can find all presentations from the conference here:

Conference recordings are available on the session pages, or on the B4EST YouTube channel.

You can find live reporting from the sessions on the B4EST Twitter account:

Using forest genetic resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation

Watch the keynote presentation on forest genetic resources given by Dr Tongli Wang (Associate professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada) on 20 June 2022.

Climate change is causing a mismatch between the climate that trees have adapted to in the past and the climate that the trees will face in the future. Natural migration and evolution may take too long to achieve new local adaptation. Using the available genetic resources created by nature and tree improvement programs will probably be the most effective way to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Nature has created a large number of tree species for different climate conditions and among-population variation along climate gradients within species for local adaptation. Improved genetic materials have been produced through breeding for various objectives, including fast growth and resistance to pests, diseases, and harsh environments. However, challenges remain in making effective use of these genetic resources to fight against climate change.

Dr Wang looks at:

1) using climate niche models to assess the impact of climate change and to assist species in matching their suitable climate;

2) using transfer and response functions to understand the genetic and physiological responses of populations to climate change; and

3) the use of genomic information for delineation of seed and breeding zones.  

Researcher in quantitative genetics

A position as a researcher in quantitative genetics of forest trees is available at the Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution, Uppsala University.

The Department of Ecology and Genetics is an international environment with staff and students from all over the world. Our research spans from evolutionary ecology and genetics to studies of ecosystems. For more information, see

Project description: Our group works on plant population genetics and evolutionary biology with a special emphasis on local adaptation and related questions. We study primarily two groups of plants: the tetraploid weed Capsella bursa-pastoris and its close relatives and forest trees (spruces, birches, larches and poplars). The present position is associated with the EU-funded H2020 B4EST project and more specifically with the development of new breeding strategies and the evaluation of the potential of group selection in forest tree breeding.

Duties: The candidate will be responsible for gathering available data in breeding programs and analyzing them. Population and quantitative genetics data analyses, computer simulations and publishing articles.

Qualifications required: A doctoral degree, or a foreign degree equivalent to a doctoral degree, in within population or quantitative genetics. The applicant is expected to have a solid background in quantitative and population genetics and be familiar with UNIX environments and have experience in standard statistical methods. We attach great importance to personal qualities such as good collaboration skills. Candidates must be able to express themselves very well in spoken as well as written English.

Qualifications desired: Proficiency in relevant programming languages (e.g. bash, Perl, Python, C) will be a strong advantage.

More information and to apply:

Closing date: October, 25 2021

For further information about the position please contact: Professor Martin Lascoux, Martin.Lascoux @ , +46 18 471 64 16.

Image: athree23/Pixabay

EVOLTREE webinar series: Genomics in Practice

The next EVOLTREE online seminar series takes place in November 2021. This fall, the series’ theme is “Genomics in Practice”. Speakers include:

Wednesday 3 November 2021 16:30-18:00 CET
Prof Mike Bruford, Cardiff University
Conserving genomic diversity for climate resilience in a changing world

Wednesday 10 November 2021 09:00-10:30 CET
Dr Rebecca Jordan, CSIRO Hobart
Building resilience to change: using genomics to guide plant restoration and conservation in a changing world

Wednesday 17 November 2021 16:30-18:00 CET
Prof Emily Latch, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Genomic data improves wildlife conservation

Thursday 25 November 2021 16:30-18:00 CET
Prof Louis Bernatchez, Laval University, Québec
Genomics applied to fisheries management and conservation

More information and to register:

Image: Valiphotos, Pixabay

7th IUFRO Workshop on Genetics of Tree-Parasite Interactions in Forestry

Understanding forest tree-antagonistic interactions in a
changing world

September 20-24, Pontevedra, Spain

More information

Managed and natural forests provide essential ecosystem services worldwide. Due to the free of movement of people and goods across biogeographical zones, tree species are increasingly challenged by emergent invasive biotic threats. We can see large range expansions of pests and diseases, as well as sudden shifts to naïve host species. Moreover, climate change is also increasing abiotic tree stresses, which synergistically interact with tree resistance leading to negative effects on tree survival and forest resilience.

Although forest tree species are known to harbour high levels of genetic variation, most remain fairly unstudied, particularly in traits related to host tolerance and resistance to biotic and abiotic stressors. To understand such variations, within the framework of the genetics of tree-antagonist interactions, is necessary to forecast the survival and prevalence of forest populations in a changing environment. This knowledge can also be exploited in breeding programs aiming to improve forest health.

The scientific community is pushing for an urgent multidisciplinary and coordinated effort to solve these challenges, making use of current and new knowledge, strategies and technologies. Geneticists, evolutionary biologists, ecologists, phytopathologists, entomologists, plant physiologists, breeders and managers are all involved in this challenge. This workshop will provide the ideal forum for updating knowledge, evidences, solutions and failures between scientific, academic and practical approaches. It is also an opportunity to enhance the dialogue of long experienced expertise with the new generations of scientists, which will provide creative and new solutions in the near future.

Photo: Pixabay/adege

Virtual schools on Climate Data Use for Impact Assessments

The IS-ENES consortium is organising its Second and Third IS-ENES3 virtual School on Climate Data Use for Impact Assessments.

The aim of the School is to help researchers make better use of available climate data and knowledge, in order to produce higher quality research outputs and services. This, in turn, will help to combat and adapt to climate change. Other aims are to develop a network of researchers who can turn to each other in the future for advice and cooperation. 

The two schools will be organized as a virtual course with online sessions during six weeks combined with self-study and case studies in small groups.

Spring School : from 2 March to 16 April, 2021

Summer School from 19 May to 25 June, 2021

Participants can be PhD students, Postdocs, professionals, consultants, including climate services providers. An MSc in the natural sciences is required for fruitful participation.

More information and how to apply

Image: Pixabay/Tama66

Special Issue of Forests: “Genetic Control of Forest Tree Traits”

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907) will focus on Genetic control of forest tree traits and their interaction with the environment.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 August 2021.

Guest editor: Dr. Rosario Garcia Gil

We call for research works in the field of forest genetics that advance our understanding on the genetic control of forest tree traits of economic and ecological value, and their interaction with a changing environment. We encourage research works that provide novel models for the implementation of genomics and remote sensing tools to accelerate and assist forest genetic adaptation to secure production and biodiversity.

More information:

Image: Kurt Bouda, Pixabay

EVOLTREE Online Seminar Series on Polygenic adaptation

EVOLTREE has launched a series of online seminars about polygenic adaptation in trees and other organisms. The events will be streamed on YouTube and recorded.

Variation in complex phenotypic traits, like growth, is known to be driven by many genes. For example, it has been shown that the height of humans is associated with thousands of regions in the genome. Approaches for detecting polygenic signals from genomic data, however, are still scarce and rarely applied. This seminar series aims to promote an exchange of knowledge among scientists working on polygenic adaptation in disparate organisms with the objective of facilitating development and wider uptake of the latest approaches.


28 October 2020, 16:30-18.00 CET
Jonathan Pritchard: ‘Architecture and adaptation of human complex traits’

4 November 2020, 16:30-18.00 CET
Emily Josephs ‘The evolutionary forces shaping gene expression variation’

18 November 2020, 16:30-18.00 CET
Sam Yeaman ‘A tale of two architectures: Local adaptation under migration-selection balance’

25 November 2020, 16:30-18.00 CET
Neda Barghi: ‘Polygenic adaptation in Drosophila’

More information

Registration: here.

The seats in the live sessions are limited to 100. All those registered participants who won’t make it to the virtual room because of the limited places are invited to follow the seminar on the EVOLTREE YouTube channel.

Image: Pete Linforth, Pixabay

New COST Action in epigenetics/epigenomics

A new COST Action relevant to the B4EST community, EPI-CATCH “EPIgenetic mechanisms of Crop Adaptation To Climate cHange” has begun.

Its objective is to define, develop, generate and share new breaking knowledge and methodologies for the investigation of epigenetic mechanisms modulating plant adaptation to environmental stresses driven by climate change. So far, no international network has been created with the aim of standardizing methodology in plant epigenetics/epigenomics and better integrate these data with other “omic” approaches. EPI-CATCH will create a pan-European framework for networking in this under-investigated research field.

More information can be found on their website

Briefly: EPI-CATCH has been designed to address the following issues:

  1. the scarce research investment in developing methods and infrastructure for plant epigenetics/epigenomics,
  2. the heterogenous and complex nature of epigenetic mechanisms,
  3. the significant impact derived by new epigenetic discoveries.

EPI-CATCH has 3 main challenges in epigenetics/epigenomics: 1) improving lab methodology. 2) improving in silico data analysis and 3) better integration of epigenomic data with other “omic” data.

For each country, persons interested in the project could contact the member of the Management Committee representing their country – you can find the full list here:|Name:management-committee

Image: Pixabay/Geralt

Research Scientist in integrative genomic prediction of complex phenotypes for poplar selection purposes

INRAE is offering a permanent position for a research scientist interested in integrative genomic prediction of complex phenotypes for poplar selection purposes. The successful candidate will be involved in B4EST WP3 activities.

– Deadline for applications: March 5, 2020
– Pre-selections: April-May 2020
– Final selections: May-June 2020
– Starting date for appointments: from September 2020

Open to candidates with a doctorate (or equivalent). A specialization in quantitative genetics and a solid experience in functional genomics are expected. Any experience in statistical modelling and bioinformatics will also be appreciated. Fluency in English is desirable, as well as long-term international research experience.

Detailed information about the position, and how to apply is available on the INRAE portal.

Further information: Leopoldo Sanchez Rodriguez ( 

Webinar: The Planter’s Guide: a benchmark for climate-adapted FRM deployment recommendations


Our B4EST webinar held on 10 December introduced the Planter’s Guide.

The Planter’s Guide is a web-based decision support tool for improved Scots pine forest reproductive material (FRM) in Sweden and Finland. By selecting a regeneration site, the Planter’s Guide ranks all available seed orchards according to their predicted areal production over a rotation. However, as both growth and survival ability are shown separately the user can use this information for a more detailed selection.

Find out more about the Planter’s Guide


Introduction: Rach Colling, European Forest Institute

Presentation: Mats Berlin, Skogforsk 

Live testing of the tool: Mats Berlin, Skogforsk



Download Mats’ presentation

Background paper:
Scots pine transfer effect models for growth and survival in Sweden and Finland

YouTube link:


Genetics to the rescue: Managing forests sustainably in a changing world

January 27 – 31, 2020 – University of Avignon, Avignon, France

The international scientific conference “Genetics to the rescue: managing forests sustainably in a changing world” is for scientists in the fields of evolutionary biology, genomics, functional ecology, conservation genetics and political sciences interested in forests as model organisms and in applying results of these fields to the global challenge of sustainable forest management.

The conference is organized in four sessions, over two days (January 28 and 29, 2020).

Session 1: Genomes and the environment
Session 2: Local adaptation of climate change-related traits
Session 3: Conserving and using genetic diversity
Session 4: Evolutionary management of forests

The stakeholder event, following the conference, is aimed primarily to forest managers and policy makers, and focuses on the importance of genetics in forest management. During the stakeholder event, the implications of the conference findings for sustainable forest management and policy will be discussed.

A training session on how to use genomics resources and principles for forest ecology targets Master’s and PhD students and early stage researchers.

Finally, a Wikipedia session will train participants on how to edit Wikipedia pages and use the opportunity to edit those pages relevant to forest genetics and sustainable forest management.

More information:

The conference is organized by the H2020 project GenTree.

Image: skeeze/Pixabay

Planter’s guide – new tool for choosing Scots pine plant material in Sweden and Finland

A new web-based tool developed with support from the B4EST project provides recommendations of the best available Scots pine seedlings from seed orchards in Sweden and Finland. It allows the user to select a planting site and compare plant material from both countries.

The tool builds on a new model framework developed in spring 2019, which allows Swedish and Finnish seed orchard crops to be ranked and compared on the same scale in either of the countries. This has now been implemented in a freely available web-based decision support tool (Planter’s Guide) which covers both countries in each language, and also as an English version.

The user can select an arbitrary planting site, either by clicking on a map or by providing coordinates. The tool then produces a list of seed orchards ranked according to a performance index, by growth or by survival. The deployment recommendations are climate adapted: the performance index is based on survival ability in the current climate, but simultaneously taking advantage of the improved growth conditions in the future climate.

Additional information about each seed orchard (e.g. ownership, clonal origin, establishment year, size) is available by selecting and clicking on it in the list. A map of the suitable deployment area for each seed orchard is shown, and the deployment maps for different seed orchards can be compared.

More information

Read more

Use the Planter’s Guide (EN)

Use the Planter’s Guide in Swedish (SE)

Use the Planter’s Guide in Finnish (FI)

Contact: Mats Berlin (

XXV IUFRO World Congress, 2019

The XXV IUFRO World Congress will be held in Curitiba, Brazil from 29 September to 5 October 2019.

Several researchers involved with the B4EST project will be presenting at the Congress:

  • 1.10.2019 Agathe Hurel, INRA

Genetic variation, trade-offs and association genetics for growth, bud burst and pathogen susceptibility in maritime pine

This work is related to both WP1 (genetic variation) and WP2 (trade-offs)

  • 5.10.2019 Santiago C. González-Martínez, INRA

Negative selection and polygenic adaptation in maritime pine

This research is part of the work done in maritime pine for WP2, in collaboration with INIA and CNR (among others).

  • 5.10.2019 Mateusz Liziniewicz, Skogforsk

The status of forest trees breeding in Sweden and realized genetic gain in Norway spruce breeding program


Several sessions are of interest to the B4EST community:

Further details can be found here:


Image of Botanic Gardens: Hezaro, Pixabay

EVOLTREE Scientific seminar: genetic adaptation research for future forests

17 September 2019, Aberdeen

The EVOLTREE Scientific Seminar will explore the ways in which forest tree genetics can be applied to increase local adaptation and resilience in future forests.

New genetic and genomics approaches, including new-generation breeding strategies, have great potential to harness natural genetic variation to promote forest health and productivity, in particular in the face of global disturbances, such as climate change, land fragmentation and emerging pests and diseases.

Speakers include:

Delphine Grivet (INIA) – “Using genomics to characterize evolutionary potential for conservation”
Christophe Orazio (EFI) – “REINFFORCE: First results from 35 forest tree species plasticity assessment in common gardens along the Atlantic Coast, from Portugal to Scotland”
Duncan Ray (Forest Research) – “Using climate projection uncertainty to select FRM for future forest sites”
Santiago C. González-Martínez (INRA) – “Gene networks and polygenic adaptation in two conifers with contrasted demography, maritime pine and English yew”

Sue Jones (The James Hutton Institute) – “Could viruses pose a threat to native tree species?”
Markus Müller (University of Göttingen)- “Investigation of adaptive genetic variation in European beech by means of candidate gene and transcriptome analyses”
Emma Bush (CEH) – “Tropical tree phenology in a time of change’”
Lindsay Banin (CEH) – “Intra- and interspecific leaf trait variation, decomposition processes and the ‘home-field advantage’ in European woodlands”

More information

View the programme


Photo: Felix Mittermeier/pixabay

Survey results show positive perceptions of adaptive tree breeding

A European survey carried out by the B4EST project shows that improved forest reproductive materials are perceived positively by the forest sector, and are considered important in forest regeneration and afforestation to adapt to climate change.

The survey wanted to understand the experiences and expectations of different groups in the forest sector towards adaptive tree breeding, and the usage and uptake of improved forest reproductive material (FRM). FRM refers to all parts of a tree that can be used for reproduction, for example fruits, seeds and cones. Improved FRM which result from selection on a combination of adaptive and production performances can provide specific benefits, for example better resilience to climate conditions, pests and diseases.

The survey received 565 responses from nine European countries (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The online survey was open to all stakeholders of the forest-based bioeconomy, and received the highest number of responses from public administrators as well as public and private forest managers. Eight species were investigated – six native (Norway spruce, Scots pine, maritime pine, poplar, common ash, stone pine) and two non-native (Douglas-fir, Eucalyptus).

The results show that negative effects of climate change are increasingly expected by 2050, with regional difference between Scandinavia and Southern Europe. There is some confidence by the European forest sector that future climatic changes will be manageable, and that improved forest reproductive material will be an important management strategy to adapt to climate change. Respondents said their three most important forest management strategies to adapt to climate change will be:

  • Diversification of tree species
  • Artificial regeneration with improved forest reproductive material combined with revision of guidelines towards optimal adaptation to future climate
  • Enrichment of natural regeneration with forest reproductive material better adapted to future climate changes

To successfully adapt to climate change, the use and importance of improved forest reproductive material is expected to increase and at the same time, more research is needed to find solutions to the biggest threats like droughts, windstorms and pests. This may indicate that breeding programs for a larger number of species are required, to reach an expected level of diversification.

More information


Contact: Dennis Roitsch (

Image: Norway spruce seedlings, Landbruks- og matdepartementet, Wikimedia

Training workshop on Methods in forest conservation genetics

December 10-13, 2019 at INIA, Madrid, Spain

As part of Gentree project ( dissemination and training activities, this workshop aims to provide a general conceptual background and hands-on experience in the analysis of molecular and quantitative genetic data, and of trait-based species distribution models (ΔTraitSDM), for conservation genetics relevant problems in tree species. Emphasis will be on statistical and modelling tools, rather than on the data acquisition process.

Topics will cover: summary of relevant population genetic parameters in conservation; estimation of effective population size and inbreeding; estimation of genetic connectivity and introgression; surveying genome-wide molecular diversity in natural populations; inferences of selection and historical demography; design and analysis of common garden experiments to assess adaptive quantitative genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity; estimation of additive genetic variance, heritability and evolvability; trait-based species distribution models (ΔTraitSDM) as forecast tools for genetic conservation.

Registration is free and the organization will cover the accommodation expenses, breakfast and lunches of up to 20 students.

The application deadline is July 25th, please visit the workshop’s website below for application instructions, the list of instructors, contact information, and other details:

Photo: Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Training workshop on “Concepts and tools for optimum selection in forest tree breeding”

28-30 October 2019, HÖÖR, Sweden
More information

Organised by the GENTREE project.
Participants: forest managers and practitioners, forest breeders
Deadline for application: 15 June 2019

Tree breeders must often consider conservation of genetic diversity, while at the same time they attempt to maximize genetic response to selection. This challenge is common to management of populations for both gene conservation and elite breeding, as well as to assembly of deployment populations, such as seed orchards and mixtures of selected clones. GenTree has developed several tools and advanced methods for addressing this challenge.

The purpose of this course is to provide participants with the background and user-skills necessary to apply these tools correctly in the context of applied forest tree breeding programs. Different tools for “optimum selection” will be presented, such as “OPSEL”, which uses state-of-the-art mathematical approaches to optimize selection with a specified constraint on gene diversity. Other approaches include managing genetic diversity at the genomic level to guarantee short- and long-term genetic gains or levels of fitness, notably under genomic-evaluation scenarios.

After “optimizing” genetic contributions to a selected population, the practitioner still faces the daunting task of preparing mating plans that respect these contributions, while avoiding excessive relatedness between parents. A generalized tool “XDesign” makes this task straightforward, allowing the user to specify a threshold on the maximum acceptable coancestry between mates.

The training will show the concepts and functioning of several strategies to account explicitly for diversity across the genome of candidates during selection and mating steps in the context of breeding and conservation programs. Breeding strategy evaluation will be addressed with R-scripts and the simulation package “POPSIM’.

More information: Johan Westin (Skogforsk,

Photo: Stocksnap/Pixabay

1st B4EST annual meeting

B4EST partners gathered in Edinburgh from 21-23 May for the first Annual Meeting. The meeting was a chance for an update on the progress of the project, and to work together with colleagues on the project’s objectives: proposing options to manage and help forests adapt to climate change.

B4EST works with eight of the most economically, ecologically and socially important tree species in Europe, and the focus for this meeting was Scots pine.

Guest speaker Richard Ennos from the University of Edinburgh looked at how Dothistroma septosporum was affecting pine trees in Scotland and the pathogen’s evolutionary potential. The pathogen affects 82 species of pine, and spreads by spores to infect the tree crown, causing growth reduction. Currently there are a number of epidemics worldwide, in Europe, North America and New Zealand, and it was first recorded on native Scots pine in the UK in 2010.

There have been previous breeding programmes for resistance in New Zealand, which has only a single asexually reproducing Dothistroma genotype. But the UK situation is different – three genetically distinct clusters of Dothistroma septosporum have been found in Scotland, confirmed by genome resequencing. Of interest to B4EST, is how is this likely to affect breeding for durable resistance. The resequencing showed the genetic diversity, sexual reproduction within races and hybridisation between races of D. septosporum in the UK, meaning that there is high evolutionary potential, much greater than in New Zealand. Breeding for durable resistance is therefore more difficult, because you are breeding against something which is changing. Richard concluded there is a need to rethink traditional tree breeding programmes to integrate continuous natural selection driven by changing composition of evolving pest and pathogen populations.

Matti Happanen from LUKE gave an overview of the current panorama of Scots pine breeding and the potential uses of genomic information. There are some constraints – an economic rotation of 70-100 years, difficult clonal propagation, late sexual maturity and fairly small seed yield.  Accurate genomic relationships are the most useful new information for operational breeders, while possible additional gains will arise from higher accuracy and selection intensity, rather than from faster breeding. Genotyping costs are still far too high for largescale operational breeding applications, but further reduction of the costs will open new ways to implement genomics in tree breeding.

Take our survey on adaptive tree breeding!

The B4EST project is launching a European survey on adaptive tree breeding, open to people working in the forest sector such as forest managers and owners, tree breeders, and representatives of forest associations and industry.

B4EST is an EU Horizon 2020 project which has a focus on fostering productive, sustainable and resilient forests under climate change. The survey aims to identify a realistic picture of the experiences and expectations of different groups in the forest sector towards adaptive tree breeding and the usage and uptake of improved forest reproductive material (FRM). FRM is used in regeneration and afforestation, and refers to all parts of a tree that can be used for reproduction, for example fruits, seeds and cones. Improved FRM provides specific benefits, for example better resilience to climate conditions, pests and diseases.

By taking the survey, you will have the opportunity to influence future FRM developments, and inform policy makers.

It takes about 15 minutes to answer the questions, and you can choose whether to answer anonymously or leave contact details if you wish to receive an executive summary of the key findings.

The deadline for answering the survey is 10 March 2019.

Take the survey in English here: 

It’s also available in: 

Finnish (FI)
French (FR)
German (DE)
Italian (IT)
Norwegian (NO)
Portuguese (PT)
Spanish (ES)
Swedish (SE)

Postdoctoral researcher vacancy

Postdoctoral researcher, Tandem Forest Value project FutureGenes

We are searching for a post doc researcher to work on Tandem Forest Value Project FutureGenes. It is a two-year position starting in December, 2018.

Tandem Forest Values is a bilateral (Finland-Sweden) research program within forestry and the forest products industry. FutureGenes project combines four teams: National Resources Institute Finland, Luke (prof. Katri Kärkkäinen) SLU (Prof. Harry Wu) UOulu (Dr. Tanja Pyhäjärvi) and Skogforsk (Dr. Mats Berlin) to study genetics of adaptation to climate and possibilities to mitigate the effects of climate change to forests via breeding and optimal seed deployment. In the project, we will analyse data on Scots pine and Norway spruce obtained in national projects on local adaptation and genomic selection, and in an ongoing H2020 project B4EST (Adaptive tree breeding strategies and tools for forest production systems resilient to climate change and natural disturbances).

We are searching for a post doc researcher to work with us e.g. in analyses of genetic variation, differentiation and genomic prediction (e.g., quantitative genetic and sequence variation analyses, genomic selection methods), and in defining optimal deployment models for future climates.

More information

Closing date: 9 November 2018

Image credits: Daiga Ellaby, Unsplash