Improving the productivity, resistance, and adaptability in poplar – development of genetic markers for aspen ("MaRussiA")
The joint German-Russian co-operation project with the acronym "MaRussiA" focuses on the improvement of poplar in eastern and western Europe (Russia respectively Germany), where the aspen species Populus tremula is indigenous and distributed widely. Background and objective of the jointresearch project is the development of genetic markers for marker-assisted selections (MAS). Such markers would represent major advances in forest tree breeding e.g. for accelerating the breeding process. Different full-sib families were provided by the Russian partners, and those with the highest progeny numbers were chosen for the development of genetic maps. Several hundreds of microsatellite (SSR) markers were tested in the parents for heterozygosity and mapping ability, and 30-40 SSR markers were successfully selected covering all 19 chromosomes. The available full-sib progenies will be tested in field trials to phenotype productivity and resistance characters, e.g. heart rot and drought. Segregating populations will be identified and QTL analyses for the phenotyped traits will be performed. Based on the results obtained, gene markers for a marker-based selection will be developed to intensify poplar / aspen breeding in Russia.