Evaluation of Seed orchard conference Umeå 2007

Time: 26-28 September 2007. Content: There were 90 participants and 36 lectures. Twenty minutes time slots for speakers including speaker change, to get the electronic to work, and discussion. Recommended time for the presentation itself was 15 minutes. Seventeen posters were presented. Participants will get a compact schedule with many presentations and few discussions. There were no concurrent sessions. All presentation got the same timeslot (20 minutes) and were made in alphabetic order (thus no presentations were given a higher status than others, although some presenters were encouraged). All who expressed a wish to give speeches before the dead-line was accepted, but some of the subjects has been discussed with me and I have suggested some! Besides presentations and three poster sessions, where was a WP seed orchards business meeting, two discussions, a dissertation, an excursion and an adjacent TREEPLAN demonstration.

The program flowed well. There was no need of large changes in the time schedule. After almost all lectures (where the speaker did not use too much of the time slot) there was place for discussion. No uncontrollable or painful delays.

Localities: The conference used "PO Bäckström sal", Umeå, the University Campus, "Skogis". Lunch/dinner/coffee was served in Åteln and posters were placed mostly at holders outside lecture rooms at floor 6. Generally it worked well and was not too crowded, but it should be avoided with 90 or more eating in Åteln, at least not if pressure from others (students) is not low.

Lectures, posters, proceedings, instructions (experiences are longer down in this document)

Participation: Participation and presentation number become 1/3 higher than I guessed and double as high as the point where I had not triggered the activity in this form had I known, and felt disappointed if it had not been reached. International seed orchard discussions are seen as more important that I realised a year ago. Thus, if I complain, it is just on a relative scale, I feel very happy with the meeting and participation. Statistics on participation broken down on nations has been compiled.

Cancellations: Forty oral presentations were registered at beginning of June 2007, when the dead line for registration of orals expired. Funding or institutional approval applied for was regretfully not granted for four of them, reducing the number of actual oral presentation to 36. But two of the four, who could not be presented in person, instead contributed posters with co-authors as presenters, thus actually only 5% of once intended oral presentations were missing. Ten who were registered participants at some point in time withdraw. Six withdraw at an early stage, 3 in beginning of September before dead-line and one after that, but still a week in advance. Reasons given for cancelling  were in six cases missing funding or approval, in two cases medical and in two cases no reason given. Late cancellations were a minor problem.

Treebreedex monitored the conference

Several  aspects of seed orchards are relevant to Treebreedex. To catch the content of the conference observateaurs (Elena Foffova, Veronica Codesido, Johan Westin, Wladislaw Chalupka, Alfas Pliura, Oystein Johnsen, Gerry Douglas, Barbara Fussi) were asked take summary notes of the presentations at the conference and to deliver short reports (state of the art notes)  to the Activity coordinators. The result is here.

Participation (Some peculiarities are noted)

Poland was well represented (only Sweden and Finland had more participants) in spite of its relative distance from Umeå, and all participants contributed to the proceedings. Well done, Poland!

Umeå is since decades rather strong in seed science and the area was represented by one participant with a poster. Still one asks the question if not the interface between seed science and seed orchards should make a higher representation justified.

Treebreedex Activity 6 has experts in seeds, vegetative propagation and poplars. 4 of 4 seed experts 0 of 2 poplar experts and 1 of 5 vegetative experts participated. This distribution suggests that there is a problem that Treebreedex Activity 6 experts do not view themselves as experts of "mass propagation", but either seed people or vegetative people. Perhaps Activity 6 should replace some vegetative/poplar experts by participants in this conference. We wait and see the representation on vegetative meetings, The next Activity 6 conference is planned around the subject of vegetative propagation at the delivery end ( nursery) in April 2009. Three organisations are responsible for this meeting but no-one from them took part in the seed orchard meeting. It seems important that the concerned organisations search for "wide" expertise in vegetative propagation, who masters more than vegetative propagation techniques.  My guess is that seed experts have a broader interest and expertise than vegetative experts and are more able to review and compare the two different options, thus I suggest that some of the speakers to the vegetative meeting should be searched among speakers on the seed orchard meeting.

The seed orchards, at least in northeast Europe where the conference got most participants, are dominated by conifers. I screened the conference proceedings and found 6 contribution with non-conifers and 3 with considerable place for non-conifers. This does not look like an underrepresentation of non-conifers comparing to share in plant production for forest purposes.

The Treebreedex contribution to the conference is shown in the Figure. It was noted that all speakers from Treebreedex countries were also from Treebreedex organisations, thus it seems likely Treebreedex covers the national most important partners. Treebreedex institutes with speakers in red, other Treebreedex institutes with participants in yellowinstitutes with speakers outside Treebreedex in green. There seems to be a dividend between a north-east and a south-west part of Europe in seed orchard interest.























To illuminate that hypothesis I made statistics for the Treebreedex participants north-east resp. south west of a line between Belgrade and Stavanger. I looked up the forest area of the Treebreedex countries involved.. Even if this is not a scientific proof, it seems to be very justified to discuss the hypothesis that this dividend represents a fact and if so why the interest in south west Europe for seed orchards is so low compared to that in north east Europe.

Treebreedex institution
Participants Speakers Posters Treebreedex partner institutions Forest area of concerned countries
South-West 11 3 3 17 50 656
North-East 58 19 10 11 66 269
Not Treebreedex 21 14 4    

Among countries, three Treebreedex countries were not represented (UK, France and Italy), which does not seem alarming as a percentage. Certainly all countries can not visit all activities.

I discussed possible reasons with the Activity 6 officers and others. Cut-backs and focusing on more biological problems might contribute but hardly be a major explanation. The natural dominance of the host country (Sweden) and the ease of participation of its closest neighbours (Norway, Demark, Finland) is a part of the explanation. I can not exclude that the impression is just a chance pattern without a deep laying cause.

One can comment about the interest and compare to the Molecular meeting.  The purpose to have a molecular meeting side by side to the seed orchard conference was that they should support each other, and actually almost 40 participated in both meetings! SLU and Swedish Universities outside Umeå and UPSC at Umeå had a much stronger representation at the molecular conference. I do not think anyone whose main focus was in the molecular area choose to participate in the seed orchard also as they were in the same time. The reverse was probably more common.Why were there five Fins on the seed orchard meeting, but no-one on the adjacent DNA-meeting? Genecar is a cooperation organisation between the four Nordic forest research institutes in the four major Nordic countries. Within the Nordic cooperation Finland is specialised on Gene research and biotechnology, the DNA-meeting was in the chosen speciality of Finland, which makes the absence still more surprising.

 I also noted that rather many participants from INRA came to a meeting with UPSC rather near the seed orchard meeting although the seed orchard meeting did not attract any French participant.

One can comment about the interest from the research school: Seven of its 10 PhD students participated and all who participated took part in both the seed orchard and the Molecular meeting. All four PhD students who did not participate in any conference had a molecular touch. More supervisors participated in the molecular than in the seed orchard meeting. The only supervisor who made an oral presentation on the seed orchard conference was me. No-one from the SAB (six internationally well-recognized scientists paid to take a share in the research school and sometime travel to Sweden and functioning as a scientific board for the research school) participated in any conference. Four of the PhD students took part in presentation of posters at the seed orchard conference, which I see as something very good!

Swedish interest: There were 37 participants from Sweden, which is overwhelmingly successful. A majority of the operative seed producers and almost all of the most relevant breeders and seed orchard related scientists at Skogforsk participated. From UPSC six scientists participated, but no-one from the Umeå University department of UPSC. From SLU-Uppsala there was no participant. No Swedish plant physiologist (except one or two PhD students from the research school). Very few listeners without registering were noted (I had announced it freely available for UPSC staff, may be 1+ in average for Sept 26 and 27. No Swedish agricultural scientist or breeder participated or show an interest.

Payment: I did not ask for prepayment and was worried about the number of "no-shows" or late cancellation, but this turned out to be a minor problem, it is probably not needed to ask for prepayment. I sent invoices to those who did not pay and...

Proceedings: A few days before the first dead-line (early October) I got less than 10 contributions of 50 possible, it worried me a little, but early January I had 35, which is quite a bit, and only a single may (or may not) have contributed if I waited longer. For me it was much extra work and trouble that I wanted page numbers and a uniform lay out. In the current final version pagination appears very low in the ,pdf file, but when I print it out it comes reasonable but far from perfect. So for technical reasons it might be better to have the papers simple as links without common pagination.

Interest of the department of forest genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences: I am a senior professor in forest genetics and to my position is attached a short description of what I am expected to do. "Seed orchard research" is one of those listed topics, and the conference and the thesis present at the conference were in line with my job-description. Immediately after the conference the department leadership suggested to the faculty to the job description of a new professor replacing me to molecular forest genetics. After protests it is now allowed for the new professor to deal with seed orchards, but still the conference or my interest did not make an impression on those making research priorities in the University.

Is this Conference an important landmark in the history of Seed orchards?

This was the most important seed orchard meeting ever in the modern history of the word! And that seems to have happened in spite of that no efforts to get really many speakers (not tried to use the IUFRO umbrella, not announced on FORESTGEN before dead line for contributions). The settings are not particularly pleasant from a "touristic" or "relaxing" point of view.

That is mainly as seed orchards are not regarded as something a respectable scientist should devote attention. It is difficult to get good papers published in fancy journals. The seed orchard issues are usually discussed in national groups of professionals, and given only limited attention on conferences. Seed orchards are old style and a mature science. Futurists believe they soon will be replaced by somatic embryogenesis. Even when seed orchards are taken up at conferences they are usually only one subject among many and it tends to be mainly regional conferences. So because of this reason what can be regarded as one of the most important questions in forestry seldom is seriously discussed.

How big is this meeting compared with other large forest genetic meetings held in Sweden. The biggest event in Forest Genetics I can think about for Sweden was the Word Congress of Forest Genetics and Forest Tree Breeding in Stockholm 1963 arranged by FAO in Stockholm and supported by the government. The conference itself was for a week and there were adjacent excursions. 110 international delegates from 28 countries. 1974 there was an IUFRO conference with 70 participants for 6 days and adjacent excursions. The proceedings had 500 pages. These two meetings seem larger and more important than the two meetings combined we have now together. When there was a Norway spruce meeting 1989 and some meetings in Umeå. I think more about how big they were in comparison with this retrospectively. Talking about more biotech oriented meeting certainly the one held in Umeå 200? had more delegates and more papers were delivered.

Many meetings have seed orchards as one of many agenda. There have been regional meetings. Seed orchards have been part of bigger meetings. The most recent example is the Joint Meeting of the SFTIC/WFGA in Texas June 2007, where around 5 lectures and 3 posters concern seed orchards, abstracts are available. Before 1990 FAO organised three world consultations on tree breeding, but it has never came a fourth world consultation.

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research has a section "News and Views", which covers events of interest for the Nordic and Baltic countries. The seed orchard conference has been mentioned: http://www.nordicforestresearch.org/newsandviews/N+V-5-2007.pdf  and also stored on this web.

Britisth Columbia has a Forest Genetic Research Council which issues the Newsletter TicTalk, the issue  is issued at somewhat irregular intervals slightly more than a year between. In TicTalk 2007 December  p 39-42 the conference is described.

Indirect favourable impact?
Finnvid Prescher made his dissertation as part of the meeting, and former Outstanding Doctoral Research Awardees particiopated, may be that contributed to that Finnivid Prescher also got this award?

Press releases

PR, press. I did not care about press-releases, not even within the university. Some participants did and took initiative mainly focusing on Greek fires and diversity. Press releases (information from our University relating to the conference and connected activities). I do not think this information spread to other newspapers in a visible way.

Fröplantager kan rädda den genetiska mångfalden

Den unga tallplantan frågade år 2010 sin granne på den grekiska bergssluttningen: Var kommer jag ifrån? Var är min mamma och pappa? Dog de i skogsbränderna 2007?

Svaret var att tallen härstammade från en fröplantage. Fröplantager var ämnet för en internationell Treebreedex-konferens som på fredagen avslutades vid SLU i Umeå.

Deltagare från mer än 20 länder var eniga i slutsatsen att bästa sättet att försäkra sig om en stabil tillgång på frön till framtida skogar är att avsätta mark för fröplantager. Konferensens initiativtagare och organisatör, professor Dag Lindgren, beskrev fröplantager som “de vaggor från vilka nya generationer frön ska bringa välstånd till skogsägarna, miljön och mänskligheten”.

Fröplantager fungerar som genpooler för egenskaper som tack vare dem kan föras vidare till nya generationer träd. Några av fördelarna med att anlägga fröplantager och använda fröna därifrån för anläggning av nya skogar är friskare och mer produktiva skogar, skogar som också klarar att ta upp mer koldioxid från atmosfären.

Under de tre konferensdagarna diskuterade deltagarna de senaste teknikerna och metoderna för att konstruera och sköta fröplantager så att man får fram frön av högsta genetiska kvalitet. Många tekniskt inriktade uppsatser beskrev system för fröproduktion för att säkerställa såväl den genetiska mångfalden som viktiga genetiska vinster. Ökad användning av fröplantager garanterar att vi i framtiden kommer att ha produktiva och ekologiskt hållbara skogar i de mest skiftande miljöer.

Fröplantager är särskilt värdefulla i ansträngningarna att bevara den genetiska mångfalden bland sådana träd- och buskarter som är hotade av habitatförluster, klimatförändringar och återkommande miljökatastrofer som bränder. Konferensdeltagarna fick veta att utan fröplantager skulle det inte vara möjligt att återuppbygga somliga av de grekiska skogar som föröddes av skogbränderna sommaren 2007. Arter som svarttall (Pinus nigra) och granar kan inte föryngras på ett naturligt sätt efter brand. Lyckligtvis finns i detta fall frön lagrade från fröplantager med svarttall. Men fler fröplantager behövs, både i Europa och i andra världsdelar.

Seed orchards save genetic diversity

The young pine tree asked his neighbour on the Greek hillside in 2010, where did I come from?, where is my mother and father?, did they die in the forest fires of 2007? That pine tree came from a seed orchard. Seed orchards were the business of an international Treebreedex conference at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Umea, September 26-28.

Delegates from over twenty countries concluded that the best way to ensure a steady supply of seeds for future forests is to create dedicated areas that are managed as ‘seed producing orchards’. The conference organiser professor Dag Lindgren described seed orchards as the ‘cradles from which generations of seeds will come to bring benefits to the forest owners, the environment and mankind’.

Seed orchards are reservoirs of genes which are passed to future generations of trees. The benefits of establishing seed orchards and collecting their harvest of seeds are healthier forests which are more productive and capable of taking up more of the carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. The latest technologies to design and manage seed orchards so that they produce seeds of the highest genetic quality were discussed at the three day conference. Many technical papers described systems of seed production which can safeguard genetic diversity as well as important genetic gains. A greater use of seed orchards for generating forests will ensure that they will be productive and sustainable in a wide range of environments.

The value of seed orchards for conservation of genetic diversity was recognised especially for tree and shrub species which are threatened by loss of habitat, climatic change and recurrent environmental disasters such as fires. Delegates heard that without seed orchards of certain pines it would not be possible to restore some Greek forests which were destroyed by the forest fires of 2007. Species, such as black pine and fir trees cannot regenerate naturally after fire. Fortunately, in this case, supplies of seed are available from black pine seed orchards. More seed orchards are needed in Europe and worldwide.

Mer information:

Jan-Erik Nilsson, Institutionen för skoglig genetik och växtfysiologi, SLU Umeå, tel 090-786 82 56. E-post: Jan-Erik.Nilsson@genfys.slu.se;  Bengt Andersson, Skogforsk, Sävar, tel 090-203 33 58. E-post: Bengt.Andersson@skogforsk.se ;  Sven-Olov Bylund, Informationsavdelningen, SLU Umeå. Tel 090-786 82 29, mobiltel 070-665 76 48. E-post: Sven-Olov.Bylund@adm.slu.se    Insänt av: Sven-Olov Bylund


Pressrelease avhandling Finnvid Prescher

Tallfröplantager bör inte få bli äldre än 30 år

Den optimala livslängden på en tallfröplantage är 30 år, därefter avtar de genetiska fördelarna med att använda frön från den. Skörd av tallkottar kan i gynnsamma lägen ske redan vid åtta års ålder. Det framgår av en doktorsavhandling från SLU.

Fröplantager är ett enkelt och kostnadseffektivt sätt att höja tillväxten i våra skogar. Jägmästare Finnvid Prescher, SLU i Umeå, behandlar i sin doktorsavhandling de genetiska aspekter som är förknippade med fröplantagers funktion och skötsel och fröförsörjningen från dem.

Skillnader i kottproduktion mellan olika träd (kloner) i fröplantager har visat sig vara mindre än forskarna tidigare trott. Detta innebär att det optimala antalet kloner i en fröplantage är 20-25 st.

Själva skörden av kottar är den största kostnadsposten i en fröplantage. Plantageträden ska därför beskäras så att kottarna kan plockas från marken eller från en kort stege. Så fort en skylift måste användas ökarplockningskostnaden dramatiskt. En fröproduktion på 9 kg tallfrö per hektar fröplantage är möjlig att uppnå, vilket motsvarar ca 1 miljon färdiga plantor.

Mer information: Finnvid Prescher, Svenska Skogsplantor AB, Lagan, tel 0372-303 81 finnvid.prescher@skogsplantor.se Insänt av: Sven-Olov Bylund

Jag gjorde en nationell ansträngning med en skrivning (nedan från hösten 2007) argumenterande för att styrka fröplantageforskningen med koppling till institutionen. 2011 kan man säga att det blev en viss extern finansiering och att den nya professorn inte är förbjuden att intressera sig för fröplantager, men det blev knappast något universitetsfinansierat stöd

Mera fröplantageforskning!!!

För närvarande kan man väl säga att det ser bra ut med fröplantageforskningen vid SLU. Finnvid Prescher har gjort ett storverk, men övergår nu till praktiken på heltid och går forskningen förlorad. Dag Lindgren inleder efter förra veckans klimax nedtrappningen till pension (även om jag nog skall klara av en fröplantageundersökning, som jag samlat in kottar till idag!). Jan-Erik Nilsson (som fokuserar på plantageproblemet pollenmigration) har också ett begränsat antal år kvar. Tiden håller på att rinna ut för skogsgenetik i Umeå! Det behövs en föryngring. Det är dags för forskarskolan att nu börja tänka på världen efter forskarskolan. En doktorand eller forskarassistent med inriktning mot fröplantager!! Även om fröplantager är perifert för forskarskolans doktorander, så finns det några som har i varje fall ett visst intresse, vilket antytts ovan. Började man nu diskutera en fröplantageinriktad forskarassistent, så skulle detta intresse kunna påverka slutfasen och kanske resultera i några mer fröplantageorienterade uppsatser, så de klarare meriterade sig till en kommande forskarassistent-tjänst. Det skulle öka chansen att skogsgenetiken överlever med sådana markeringar för framtiden. Skälet till att denna vecka inte blev den första när jag är pensionerad, är att jag inte tror skogsgenetiken vid UPSC kan överleva utan mig, man får nu två år till på sig! Låt inte forskarskolan bli slutpunkten for svensk skogsgenetik!! När Sverige nu visat framfötterna i extrem grad internationellt för fröplantager, borde man göra något nationellt också!

Last edit August 2010