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: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/forests/special_issues/tree_traits_gene

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.

Programme

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.

http://www.evoltree.org/index.php/10-news/news-middle/179-evoltree-webinars

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 https://www.cost.eu/cost-action/epigenetic-mechanisms-of-crop-adaptation-to-climate-change

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: https://www.cost.eu/cost-action/epigenetic-mechanisms-of-crop-adaptation-to-climate-change/#tabs|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 (leopoldo.sanchez-rodriguez@inrae.fr) 

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

Agenda

Introduction: Rach Colling, European Forest Institute

Presentation: Mats Berlin, Skogforsk 

Live testing of the tool: Mats Berlin, Skogforsk

Questions 

Materials

Download Mats’ presentation

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

YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwqYVy8PxeM

 

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: https://colloque.inra.fr/confgentree2020/

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 (mats.berlin@skogforsk.se)

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: http://iufro2019.com/technical-sessions/

 

Image of Botanic Gardens: Hezaro, Pixabay

EVOLTREE Scientific seminar: genetic adaptation research for future forests

17 September 2019, Aberdeen
09.00-12.00

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

Registration

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

Download

Contact: Dennis Roitsch (dennis.roitsch@efi.int)

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 (www.gentree-h2020.eu) 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:

http://www.gentree-h2020.eu/events/event/training-workshop-on-methods-in-forest-conservation-genetics

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, johan.westin@skogforsk.se)

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: https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/VT5W8T6 

It’s also available in: 

Finnish (FI)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/X96C6CJ
French (FR)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/RNN5KMW
German (DE)
https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/VQK2TFX
Italian (IT)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/65PMTPN
Norwegian (NO)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/82TL8WN
Portuguese (PT)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/3ZH36WC
Spanish (ES)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/GFXC83H
Swedish (SE)https://www.surveymonkey.de/r/8KHM3WF

Postdoctoral researcher vacancy

Postdoctoral researcher, Tandem Forest Value project FutureGenes
Oulu/Umeå

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