Genomics in Tree Breeding and Forest Ecosystem Management – A Suite of Online Teaching Modules.

Conifer Translational Genomics Network (CTGN) team members are pleased to announce the roll-out (publication) of a suite of new on-line teaching modules that cover topics from introductory genetics and genomics to applied use of genomics tools in tree breeding and ecosystem management (association genetics, genomic selection, landscape genomics). CTGN is an Integrated Coordinated Agricultural Project with the goal of bringing marker-informed breeding (MIB) to application for tree-breeding cooperatives that provide over 1.3 billion seedlings annually in the United States. Forest tree breeding is particularly well-positioned to gain from marker based breeding. There are several reasons for this, but the two most important are the very long timelines necessary to complete phenotypic evaluation for most important trees traits and the significant costs associated with gathering that information. Genetic tests for phenotypic evaluation require a lot of land and expensive annual maintenance. While the cost of markers is decreasing with time the cost of field tests continues to increase. In addition, mosttraits of interest in trees are highly polygenic and of low heritability. If markers are able to account for a large proportion of genetic variation for a trait then marker selection will be more precise than phenotypic selection.

Offered as part of the Plant Breeding and Genomics Community of Practice with eXtension (pronounced e-Extension), the modules are designed to serve as complementary teaching aids for University instructors or as stand-alone lessons for students, practitioners, or curious laypeople. The full list of modules can be found at or on the CTGN webpage.

The modules are offered as large format Flash videos, each with a table of contents, the ability to search the text of the slides, and complete closed captioning. Spoken commentary accompanies the slides and provides an in-depth look at the issues relating to the information. A pdf version of each module is also available for download. In addition to the full movie versions on, the modules will be made available at the Plant Breeding and Genomics Community of Practice YouTube channel.

The modules were composed by CTGN personnel and were subject to external peer review. The production of the publications has been managed in collaboration with members of the USDA-sponsored Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP). The CTGN Project outcomes have been delivered directly to breeders and documented in databases offered at our project website. An assertive and comprehensive education and outreach program has provided widespread training for school teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, tree breeders, managers, lay-people, and other stakeholders. The teaching modules noted here represent our efforts to make a lasting outreach contribution to the scientific community.

Support for the Conifer Translational Genomics Network project and the development of the teaching modules hosted at the PBG website was provided by the USDA/NRI CSREES Plant Genomics Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) Award # 2007-55300-18603, the USDA/NIFA AFRI Applied Plant Genomics CAP Award #2009-85606-05680 and the USDA Forest Service. Development of the website was supported in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project, agreement 2009-85606-05673, administered by Michigan State University. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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