Teaching and guidance of students – University of Copenhagen

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Teaching and guidance of students

We are involved in teaching and supervision at BSc, MSc and PhD level related to quantitative genetics and breeding, population genetics and conservation, climate adaptation, dendrology and use of tree species in forests and urban landscapes.

Presently, the research group is mainly involved in teaching in the courses:

We are always looking for students who would be interested in doing their Master’s thesis or bachelor project supervised by our researchers. MSc and BSc students are normally affiliated some of our major on-going research projects, or collect and analyze data from some of our established long-termed field trials.

We welcome students own project suggestions, but also have several suggestions for projects within the species and geographical focus of the group.

Suggested student projects

Phylogeography of endemic Dalbergia trees in Indochina
Indochina, the mainland part of Southeast Asia, is recognized as part of one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with a high overall biodiversity and very high levels of endemism for both plant and animal species. The region has a complex geological and biographical history, with frequent and large historical changes in sea level and land areas, as well as in vegetation types and distribution.

This project will use phylogeography, the study of the geographic distribution of genetic lineages within species, to study how these historical events has affected the demography and distribution of two endemic timber tree species in the area, Dalbergia cochinchinensis and Dalbergia oliveri. Several hypotheses can be evaluated, e.g. what is the origin of the two species? Is there evidence of restriction to refugial forest areas in mountainous areas during earlier glacial periods? What is the effect of the Mekong River, which transects the region, on distribution and diversification of the species?

This study will be among the first of its kind in Indochina, and it is expected that the results will lead to a publication in a scientific journal.

The specific contents of the project can be subject to change depending on interests.

For more information contact Ida Hartvig ihla@ign.ku.dk

Ash Dieback I: structures of bacterial/fungal root microbiomes of selected Fraxinus species.
Some species of Fraxinus are explicitly less susceptible to ash dieback caused by the pathogen H. fraxinues than other species. Since root microbiomes are known to contribute disease resistance in many plants, this project aims to investigate bacterial/fungal communities in rhizospheres of the Fraxinus species using state-of-the-art next generation sequencing.

Contact person: Lene Rostgaard Nielsen lron@ign.ku.dk

Ash Dieback II: mating type and breeding of pathogenic and non-pathogenic H. fraxineus strains

Our latest results showed variation in pathogenicity of Danish H. fraxineus strains, ranging from very aggressive to non-pathogenic when inoculated onto seedlings of Common ash. This project will identify the mating types of virulent and non-virulent strains of H. fraxineus and conduct crossing experiments of the different types in the lab.

Contact person:  Lene Rostgaard Nielsen lron@ign.ku.dk

Do we have the right provenances of beech for the future climate?

Ring analyses are useful to study the climate response of species and provenance to climate. The ring analyses can be supplemented with analysis of wood anatomical characteristics as vessel density and sizes to test the variation with climate and among provenances.

Based on ring analysis, this study is aiming at testing the growth response of beech and beech provenances to climate variations and to test if responses among provenances are explained by the originate climate of the provenances and their phenology.  Alternatively, it is possible to test to what degree vessel density and size is varying with climate and among provenances.

The study will require measurements of growth, or wood anatomical characteristics on stem discs sampled from a field trial with European provenances.

Kontakt: Jon Kehlet Hansen jkh@ign.ku.dk

Health of Norway spruce in a future climate

The health in Norway spruce stands was generally poor in the end of the 1980ies and beginning of the 1990ies, but with genetic differences in health at provenance- and individual-tree level.  A single factor triggering the decline in health was never found. 

The study is aiming to test if genetic differences in health observed in the 1990ies are reflected in genetic differences in the response to climate. Alternatively, it could be investigated if the genetic differences in health are reflecting differences in wood anatomy. For the study, ii will be possible to sample wood cores among genotypes of Norway spruce that showed different degrees of health decline in the 1990ies.  

Contact: Jon Kehlet Hansen jkh@ign.ku.dk

Genetic variation in spiral grain in Sitka spruce and Norway spruce

Spiral grain is the main cause for twist in timber of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce. A genetic variation in spiral grain in the inner rings of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce has been shown in previous studies and without a genetic correlation with growth.

This project will investigated if genetic variation is still present in older rings and how it is related to growth. In Norway spruce, it will be possible to use the results as input for selective thinnings in a seed orchard.

Contact: Jon Kehlet Hansen jkh@ign.ku.dk

Genetic variation in resistance against powdery mildew in Quercus


Powdery mildew (Erysiphe alphitoides sensu lato) originates from Asia, but is now widespread in Europe. The fungus is mainly infecting young leaves and especially leaves of lamma (second) shoots of oak are infected. The infections reduce growth and make infected shoots susceptible to frost in the autumn.

This project is aiming at quantifying the genetic variation in mildew susceptibility at lamma shoots and in lamma shoots formation and quantifying the importance of mildew susceptibility for growth, external stem quality and survival in Quercus petraea or Quercus robur.

Material and methods

Two breeding seed orchards (BSOs) with Q. robur and Q. petraea with tree from open pollinated families are available to study the genetic variation in mildew susceptibility at lamma shoot and in lamma shoot formation. Phenology measurements (bud burst assessments in spring and leaf yellowing in autumn), height and diameter measurements are already available from the BSOs, while it will be necessary to assess the number of lamma shoot and degree of mildew infections during the summer.

Contact: Jon Kehlet Hansen, e-mail jkh@ign.ku.dk

Genetic variation in tolerance to late winter frost in Coastal douglas-fir

A major drawback for the cultivation of Coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii (Mirb.) Franco ) is the sensitivity to frost, and especially the phenomenon that may occur in late winter/early spring with frozen soils, frost in the night and clear sky in the day.  This study is aiming at testing the hypothesis that this phenomenon is due to photo inhibition.

Material and methods

A genetic variation in damages (red needle percentage and needle loss) associated with early spring frost desiccation was observed in a field trial in 2012. Through consecutive measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence in late winter and early spring coupled with analysis of pigments (chlorophylls), it is possible to test to what extent the genetic differences in early spring damages observed 2012 are related to differences in photoinhibition and/or downregulation of photosynthesis, and whether it is possible to use chlorophyll fluorescence as a tool in early selection of trees. 

Contact: Jon Kehlet Hansen e-mail: jkh@ign.ku.dk

Post-harvest quality of Nordmann fir Christmas trees
Post-harvest needle retention is a critical consumer characteristic of a Christmas tree, and a character under strong genetic influence. Recent higher frequency of warm autumns has boosted the issues and problems of late autumn growth related to Christmas tree quality of harvested trees, indoor display and logistics. Project goal – evaluate new Danish seed orchards and compare to direct imports for traits of importance for consumer satisfaction – specially focusing on needle loss during display indoors, and/or to evaluate climate/season impact on quality. Own field and lab-trials can be performed as part of the project.

Contact person: Senior researcher Ulrik Bräuner Nielsen, ubn@ign.ku.dk

Current season needle necrosis – a costly disorder of unknown origin in Abies Christmas trees
Yearly, an economic loss is realized in Danish Christmas tree production due to reddening of current season needles occurring in mid-summer and followed by needle loss. Trees are either down-graded or unsaleable causing severe economic losses – estimated up to 50 mio. kr. a year. The disorder is related to warm climate and climatic factors, and several hypotheses have been suggested including genetics, fungus and nutrition. The project goal is to summarize existing knowledge based on literature of trees and other species, and can also be supplemented with field data from own observations/field work or data in file.

Contact person: Senior researcher Ulrik Bräuner Nielsen, ubn@ign.ku.dk

Contact person: Senior advisor Iben M. Thomsen, imt@ign.ku.dk 

Organic grown Christmas trees – the aphid problem
There is an increasing interest in organic grown Christmas trees, but our main species Nordmann fir has a notorious problem of getting infected by aphids, or more correct called adelgids. The project goal is to find out possibilities to overcome this problem. Previous research has included genetic resistance, alternative chemicals, and biocontrol. It is suggested to develop a method for testing adelgid susceptibility by use of detached branches, a method to be tested by own choice on different genetic material (provenances or species) and/or applications.

Contact persons:

Senior researcher Ulrik Bräuner Nielsen, ubn@ign.ku.dk

Ass. professor Hans Peter Ravn, hpr@ign.ku.dk or Ole K. Hansen okh@ign.ku.dk

Molecular detection of airborne pathogens
Many fungal pathogens disperse by wind, but how far do the fungal spores drift and potentially infect new hosts. Danish forestry have within the last decade see an epidemic of an apparently new and aggressive pathogen Neonectria neomacrospora which in severe cases can kill even mature firs.

By setting up a field experiment, collecting air samples, extracting DNA and quantifying spore loads by qPCR the aim is to assess dispersal distances and their by qualify sanitary decisions within the forestry. 

Contact persons:

Ass. professor Ole K. Hansen okh@ign.ku.dk