Quantitative analysis of genetic covariances was used to identify the critical morphological components of wood productivity and to evaluate the efficiency of indirect selection for these components at the four levels of biological organization, (1) leaf, (2) branch, (3) main stem, and (4) whole-tree, in 4-year Populus deltoides ×P. simonii and P. deltoides ×P. nigra F1 progeny. A total of 44 morphometric traits measured at the four organizational levels showed varying genetic associations with productivity, variations being dependent on traits, developmental processes (current terminal, sylleptics, and proleptics), and hybridization combinations. Most of the leaf and branch traits on the current terminal and/or sylleptic branches had higher genetic correlations with stem-wood volume than those on proleptics, which resulted in larger indirect selection responses in volume, especially in DxS progeny. Indirect clonal selection on leaf size and area, branching capacity, and branch angle at age 4 years was expected to generate 10-35% more genetic gain per year in 6-year volume than direct selection on 6-year volume in the DxS progeny. The efficiency of indirect selection on the numbers of different order branches and bifurcation ratio was greater than 1.0 relative to that for direct selection for stemwood volume in the D × N progeny. Under the pressure of artificial selection for superior volume production, with the proportion selected=15%, the two F1 progeny populations exhibited distinct evolutionary divergence in tree geometry. The high-yielding D × S clones displayed a decurrent-like crown with strong apical dominance, whereas the crown ideotype for the high-yielding D × N clones was found to be excurrent-like and surrounded by dense foliage and branches.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science