Genetic variation of microfibril angle and its relationship with solid wood and pulpwood traits in two progeny trials of Eucalyptus nitens in Tasmania

Image credit: M.Rocha


Microfibril angle (MFA) is a key biological trait contributing to wood stiffness, which is a common breeding objective for solid wood products in many tree species. To explore its genetic architecture, area-weighted MFA was measured in two Eucalyptus nitens progeny trials in Tasmania, Australia, with common open-pollinated families. Radial strips were extracted from 823 trees in 131 families and MFA assessed using SilviScan-2®. Heritability, genotype-by-environment interaction and inter-trait genetic correlations were evaluated to examine the genetic variability and stability of MFA and its relationships with other solid wood and pulpwood selection traits. Significant family variation was found for MFA in both trials. There was no significant genotype-by-environment interaction and the across-site narrow-sense heritability was 0.27. MFA was genetically independent of basic density, growth, and tree form. However, MFA was strongly and favourable genetically correlated to acoustic wave velocity in standing trees, modulus of elasticity and kraft pulp yield (KPY). The present study has shown that genetic improvement of E. nitens for pulpwood selection traits is unlikely to have adversely affected MFA, and thus timber stiffness. Rather these results suggest the possibility that selection for increased KPY may have indirectly improved MFA favourably for solid wood products.

Holzforschung, 75(8)
Manuel Rocha
Manuel Rocha
Forestry Researcher (PhD)

My research interests include bioclimatic, environmental and genetic data analysis.