Selected ongoing projects – University of Copenhagen

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UK IGN > Research > Forest, Nature and Biomass > Forest Genetics and Diversity > Selected ongoing projects

Selected ongoing projects

Abies bornmülleriana as a more environmental friendly Christmas tree species

Abies bornmülleriana is a fir species closely related to Nordmann fir. It was tested as Christmas tree producer together with Nordmann fir in the 1990’s and actually showed very promising results compared to the all-dominating Nordmann fir. However, the breeding and research efforts have since the early 1990’s and onwards been focused on Nordmann fir, although in the later years, more attention has again been given to A. bornmülleriana, because it seems less susceptible to the silver fir woolly adelgids (Dreyfusia nordmannianae). The latter is the most serious problem for Christmas tree production with Nordmann fir in Denmark and making it very hard to avoid use of pesticides.

Due to the very limited research and breeding efforts for bornmülleriana, only one single clonal seed orchard exist for the species (FP.267 – Kongsøre) consisting of originally 80 trees (=clones) selected phenotypically for moderate height growth, narrow with, symmetry, many internodial branches and buds plus healthy green needles and no needle loss. The seed orchard was established in 1995 and started to give seed in 2006. Our goal is, with this pre-selected plant material, to use a combination of conventional breeding methods and DNA-markers, thereby making seeds available from the best clones with regards to Christmas tree production. These seed will then be used for the production of clonal plants using somatic embryogenesis (SE). In this way the starting point for production of SE plants of bornmülleriana will be the best possible, by having added a selection based on quantitative genetics methodology to the original phenotypical selection.

Allanblackia stuhlmannii - a new plant oil species in East Africa

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Genetic diversity and adaptability of Calabrian forest trees

About 30 years ago we found a genetic explanation for why silver fir (Abies alba) of Calabrian origin showed an extraordinary vitality and adaptability, when grown outside its home region (including Denmark). It turned out that silver fir from this southern Italian region had a higher genetic variability compared to fir from the rest of the species' range. This startling discovery has since been explained by genetic drift in the different refugia during the last Ice Age, where the Calabrian refugium ensured good conditions for the species' “wintering”, maintaining the natural genetic variation, while the refugia(s) from which silver fir immigrated to Central and northern Europe, have undergone genetic bottlenecks due to poor climate conditions during the last ice age with loss of genetic variation and thus adaptability.

The objective of the project is to carry out studies of genetic variability and adaptability of silver fir and beech, from Calabria using new DNA analysis methods (not available in the 1980's) and to establish some provenance trials in Denmark.

ClimCocoa

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) is the third highest export commodity of Ghana and
represents the most important source of revenue for numerous small scale farmers. Climate change (CC) in the form of higher temperatures and reduced rainfall is expected to adversely affect cocoa productivity and reduce the area suitable for cocoa cultivation in Ghana, but the extent and underlying mechanisms are not well understood. The CLIMCOCOA project aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of CC on the socio-biophysical bases of cocoa systems in Ghana, and assess the role of agroforestry (AF) as a model for climate smart agriculture in Ghana.

We will use a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the socio-biophysical limitations and options for cocoa cultivation under CC, and to assess institutional and socio-economic factors that favor or limit adoption by farmers of innovative management options.

CLIMCOCOA will enhance farmers’ capacity to be more resilient to CC impacts on cocoa in Ghana, and build capacities of local researchers to be able to apply state of the art modelling tools to assess CC impact.

Conservation of vulnerable timbers in REDD

Alarming rates of deforestation and ecosystem degradation add to global warming, and sustainable management of forests is therefore an important part of the REDD concept. REDD activities shall both reduce CO2 emissions, conserve biodiversity and secure future livelihoods for local populations.

The present project aims at increasing the conservation value of REDD programmes by testing positive and easy applicable tools for planning and monitoring based on novel biodiversity assessment methods. The project targets Dalbergias - valuable, highly vulnerable timer species becoming increasingly rare due to illegal logging and habitat degradation. A strategy for sustainable use and management of Dalbergia is needed as a part of overall forest conservation strategy in Cambodia and adjacent countries.

Building on a larger on-going study of diversity and evolutionary potential in natural Dalbergia populations, this project will develop and test applications of novel biodiversity assessment tools for identifying areas and populations especially vulnerable to future climate change. Further, the project will test the use of DNA fingerprinting methods to monitor the exact species identity and geographic origin of traded timber. This can be an operation tool suitable for use in global certification schemes and/or FLEGT programmes.

The Greenlandic Arboretum – II: A greener Greenland?

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Genome-based analysis and diagnostic methods as a tool in the Arboretum tree collection and research

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Detection of rare species of orchid with DNA from soil samples

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Plant selection in East Africa

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Improved communication of the Arboretum's collections to the public

The project is funded by 15. juni fonden

Healthy ash forests III - from research to practice: The use of health-related genetic markers in ash

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Together with partners from the UK, we have found a number of genetic markers that are correlated with the ability to tolerate ash dieback. This project investigates how these markers are inherited from parents to offspring and how the markers can be used in practice at a wider scale.

Resistance to ash dieback based on help from naturally occurring endophytic fungi

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

Resistant ash trees seem to harbour beneficial fungi, which may have an inhibitory effect on the harmful ash dieback pathogen. The project identifies substances, which the apparently beneficial fungi secrete, and examines how these inhibit the growth of ash dieback. The potential of these fungi to combat ash dieback in susceptible ashes is also examined. 

Healthy ash trees: analysis of the interaction between pathogen and host

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond

The Asian pathogen, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, has in recent years caused severe harm to the Danish ash forests, while in Asia the fungus appears to be a harmless decomposer of ash leaves from native Asian ashes. In this study, we test whether the Danish invasive fungal population contains differences in aggressiveness among isolates cultured from fruiting bodies collected from the forest floor.

The Caspian forests of Iran: A gene pool for the adaptation of European forests?

The project will test to which extend the Caspian forests in Iran contain genetic potential for our European forests and their ability to adapt to future challenges in terms of climate change, new diseases and pests. A more general aim is to contribute to the understanding of the evolutionary processes our forest tree species have undergone as a function of selection pressure (ice ages/human influence) and isolation (refugia conditions) and how these processes have influenced genetic diversity and adaptive potential of the tree species.

The project will collect seed from 6 selected tree species in the Caspian forests, each represented by up to 9 provenances. The seed will be used to establish provenance trials in afforestation areas in Denmark and Iran. The trials will also include European/Danish reference provenances. The provenance trials will be a unique infrastructure for the next decades for studies of forest tree adaptability and climate change. The test material will be subject to quantitative genetic analyses in additional fast-track single tree plot trials. All 6 species will be analyzed by DNA analyses to compare genetic diversity between the Caspian and Danish/European forests, as well as to describe the population genetic structure of the source populations. 

Plant Ecophysiology equipment

The project is funded by GBHF - Godfred Birkedal Hartmanns Familiefond