FastTRAC Workshop at the CFGA/WFGA Forest Genetics 2017 Conference

FastTRAC held a workshop on the application of genomic selection to spruce breeding programs on June 29th 2017 during the Forest Genetics 2017 Joint Meeting of the Canadian Forest Genetics Association (CFGA) and Western Forest Genetics Association (WFGA) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Tree improvement practitioners have heard of genomic selection employed in tree breeding programs such as in Brazil.  Now there is an opportunity to see practical examples of genomic selection to assist tree breeding in Canada.

FastTRAC (Fast Tests for Rating and Amelioration of Conifers) is a three-year project funded by Genome Canada, Génome Québec, and multiple partners through the Genomics Applied Partnership Program (GAPP). FastTRAC represents a “proof of concept” for the application of genomic selection in spruce breeding programs from eastern Canada, bringing together scientists, tree breeders, foresters, and economists. Real users are thus bringing real genetic resources to the development and use of new methods based on genomics. Project partners are using FastTRAC models to rate candidate trees at a very early age, thereby accelerating the selection and reforestation of improved and adapted stock.

 The aim of the workshop was to present the thrust of FastTRAC, its focus on genetic gain for productivity and insect resistance through genomic selection in white spruce and Norway spruce, the commitment and roles of user-partners, the benefits to be realized and corresponding genetic resources required. Economic and financial perspectives were also presented, including the results of cost-benefit analyses in the context of operational deployment and intensive silviculture, valuation of volume and quality gains, integration of genomic selection with conventional breeding and with somatic embryogenesis as a possible delivery pipeline. The session was designed to encourage discussion between the audience and the presenters.


1:00 – 1:10 PM Welcome remarks and workshop objectives – G. Smith
1:10 – 1:40 PM The FastTRAC Project: Towards a cooperative approach for the implementation of genomic selection in conventional spruce breeding programs in Québec and the Maritimes

J. Beaulieu, P. Lenz, S. Nadeau & J. Bousquet

1:40 – 2:00 PM Discussion

·           What are the obstacles to apply GS in other tree breeding programs?
–          Lack of suitable materials or trials for current power of GS approaches?
–          Lack of genomic resources, genomic tools or analytical pipelines?
–          Lack of expertise or financial resources for in-house development or application?
–          Lack of external support for development or application?
–          Lack of suitable delivery pipelines for production of selected material?
·           With GS, what might change in approaches to breeding and field testing?

2:00 – 2:25 PM Financial and economic assessment of the implementation of GS in conventional tree breeding programs

V. Chamberland, F. Robichaud, M. Perron, G. Smith, J. Beaulieu & J. Bousquet

2:25 – 2:50 PM Discussion

·           What are the perceived factors influencing business decisions to integrate genomic selection and other genomic tools into tree breeding programs?
·           What are the perceived financial barriers to adoption?
·           How could they be overcome?

2:50 – 3:00 PM Concluding remarks – G. Smith & J. Bousquet