Spruce trees are Canada’s most significant forest resource. Spruces produce high quality wood and fibre that is widely used in the industry, as well as provide essential local and global ecosystem services. To meet the need for adapted spruce trees with high productivity and maximize the return on spruce reforestation investments, world-class breeding programs in British Columbia and Québec provide improved spruce stock for seed and seedling production. However, the new challenges brought about by climate change (e.g., insects, drought) and changing forest products markets require innovative, genomics-enabled acceleration of spruce breeding programs to ensure future forest health, wood quality and productivity.
The Spruce-Up Project addresses these challenges in partnership with actively participating partner End-Users (BC Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, Natural Resources Canada, Forest Products Innovations, and the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre). It will deliver leading knowledge, socioeconomic decision support tools and applied genomic tools to significantly enhance conventional breeding programs and accelerate the development and deployment of genomics-improved spruce stock. Spruce-Up focuses on biomarkers and tailored marker systems for improving insect and drought resistance, nutrient use efficiency, and wood quality and productivity from natural genetic variation. Spruce-Up outcomes would leverage established spruce breeding and reforestation programs by increasing commercial value of new trees, reducing risk by shortening rotations, and reducing losses due to environmental disturbances.