Climatic adaptation in Norway spruce
Our genetic research targets primarily climatic adaptation and population genetics of Norway spruce. Proper climatic adaptation depends critically on timing of budburst in spring and bud set in autumn, important selection criteria in tree breeding. In Norway spruce, it has been shown that these phenotypic traits are influenced by the temperature during the trees' early childhood, i.e. seed development. We are now trying to unravel the molecular basis for these epigenetic effects.
The main traits we are selecting for are climatic adaptation, growth and wood quality – without compromising genetic variation. Thus, tree breeding is assisted by population genetic studies to estimate genetic diversity in seed orchards and natural populations, identify pollen donors and estimate the effective population sizes in seed orchards. We have a close collaboration with forest pathologists to investigate the genetic components in disease resistance, e.g. root rot in Norway spruce and ash dieback.
Phylogeography and conservation genetics
The population histories and postglacial migration of trees affect their genetic structure. In addition to Norway spruce, we have been working on English yew and several deciduous species, most of which have northern marginal populations in Norway. Currently we are working on conservation genetics of ash, utilizing both traditional markers as microsatellites and next generation sequencing approaches.
Next generation sequencing laboratory
We have a well-equipped molecular lab, including a next-generation sequencer (Ion Torrent PGM sequencer). With this system we can efficiently scale our experiments in relation to the number of markers obtained and individuals profiled.