Current issue: 54(4)
Forest tree breeding involves manipulation of genetic composition of populations and individuals, and biotechnology focuses on selected individuals. The new techniques cannot replace the conventional breeding techniques but both need effective cooperation of each other. Thus, the distinction between conventional breeding and biotechnology is artificial. The biotechnology methods are new and fast developing and the future with field and progeny testing will show which techniques will be permanently adopted into tree breeding. For instance, the earlier hope of the use of somaclonal variation as a new source of variability and a powerful tool for the breeder seem today quite the opposite. Somaclonal variation constituting a major problem in present-day micropropagation is due to the unpredictable variation. Based on knowledge of today, especially micropropagation via somatic embryos, transgenic trees and the identification of major genes seem to be good candidates to be permanently adopted into tree breeding.
The paper introduces different ways plant physiology research can avail the process of tree improvement. The breeding of tree cultivars that efficiently produce a particular wood product or amenity will be an important aspect of forest management. What physiologist can provide to breeders and genetic engineers is the opportunity to move their work from empirical level towards a more theoretical level, and help to make breeding more predictable and more precise in its objectives. The areas of research discussed in the paper are biotechnology, flowering, selection criteria, adaptability and application of ideotypes.