Northern red oak is a high-value hardwood used for lumber, furniture and veneer. Intensively managed northern red oak seed orchards are required to obtain genetic gain for trait improvement. Data from conifer seed orchards and natural and managed stands of hardwood trees have shed light on the distance over which pollen can move, and underscore the need for managerial attention to seed orchard design, placement, and maintenance. We used eleven microsatellite markers to investigate pollen gene flow, female mate choice, and male reproductive success in a clonal seed orchard of northern red oak based on paternity analysis of seed orchard offspring in progeny tests. Nearly all (93%) offspring were sired by a male parent within the seed orchard. The mean number of male parents per year was 69.5, or 47.6% of all clones in the seed orchard. Female clones in the early phenology group had more offspring sired from extra-orchard pollen (13%) than clones in the intermediate (5%) and late (1%) phenology groups. Distance was the largest influence on pollination success, and pollination occurred most often by male trees in the same subline as the maternal tree. Males in the early phenology group sired more offspring overall in the progeny pool and more offspring per mother tree than males in the intermediate or late phenology groups. Average genetic correlations among all OP progeny ranged between 0.2557 and 0.3529 with a mean of 0.28±0.01. The importance of progeny test genotyping for northern red oak improvement likely is increasing with the demand for improved varieties. The current study demonstrated the feasibility of post hoc assembly of full-sib families for genetic analysis.


Alexander L, Woeste K (2017) Pollen gene flow, male reproductive success, and genetic correlations among offspring in a northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seed orchard. PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171598. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171598

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