Variation in Platycladus orientalis (Cupressaceae) Reproductive Output and Its Effect on Seed Orchard Crops’ Genetic Diversity Jiao, Si-Qian; Li, Meiyu; Zhu, Yuan-Jiao; Zhou, Shan-Shan; Zhao, Shi-Wei; Li, Zhi-Chao; Bao, Yu-Tao; Shi, Tian-Le; Zhang, Hui-Jin; Yang, Xiao-Lei; Zhu, Ji-Jun; Porth, Ilga; El-Kassaby, Yousry A.; Cheng, Shi-Ping; Li, Yue; Mao, Jian-Feng
The genetic efficiency of seed orchards is crucial for determining seed crops’ genetic gain and diversity. Platycladus orientalis is a conifer tree of important ecological value in China. Here, we assessed the reproductive output (fertility) variation for 166 clones in a first-generation P. orientalis seed orchard over five years and across three years for each gender (female: 2017, 2018, and 2020 and male: 2017, 2019, and 2021). Fertility variation and genetic diversity parameters were estimated for each gender-year combination. The reproductive output (fertility) variation differed among years, provinces, clones nested within provinces, and ramets within clones. We observed asymmetry in the gender reproductive output and parental imbalance and determined their profound effects on the genetic diversity of these seed crops. The maleness index revealed the existence of female-biased or male-biased clones. When seeds from multiple individuals and years were blended, we found an increase in the effective number of parents (Np) and in genetic diversity (GD), and a reduced fertility variation (Ψ) in the seed orchard. When we set the effective number of parents (Np) to 30, the GD of the seed orchard could be maintained at more than 95%. Thus, achieving genetic diversity balance in seed production can be accomplished through monitoring the fertility variation of orchards and through the utilization of the thereby generated information for the advanced generation of seed orchards.
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