Project: Quality Management for Vital Forest Tree Seedlings

Commercially exploited forests require a supply of billions of seedlings annually. The coniferous planting stock for reforestation, annually more than 2 billion seedlings in Northern Europe, USA and Canada alone, is COly produced by large scaled forest tree nurseries. These nurseries typically produce 1 - 15 million seedlings a year of just a few species. This requires a tight scheduling of operations, to be able to deliver vital seedlings to the planting site. Many management decisions in forest tree nurseries depend on seedling quality. Examples are:_x000D_• Transfer of seedlings to cold/frozen storage_x000D_Containerized seedlings are vulnerable to extreme weather and have to be stored in stable cold conditions during winter. This only works when the timing of taking seedlings in and out of storage is optimal. Accurate information on the condition of the seedlings is therefore essential. _x000D_• Start/end long night treatment._x000D_Long night (LN) treatment is commonly used to stop shoot elongation or as an initial preparation for hardening and storage. Today there is no practical way to measure the response of the seedlings and the nurseries have to use long treatments to be sure to get an effect. Much would be gained if LN treatments could be adjusted to the response of the seedling. _x000D_• Control procedures for fungal infections and other causes of seedling damage. _x000D_The open land environment allows fungae, to establish within the nursery crop. Lophodermium needle cast is one of the most problematic fungi in forest nurseries. There is an assay available to identify L. seditiosum, but this method can not distinguish between dead and living material. Monitoring for presence of active fungus would greatly improve seedling quality and reduce the prophylactic use of pesticides._x000D_• Delivery of seedlings_x000D_Establishing seedling vitality before seedlings are delivered to the customer is essential. Winter damages are hard to discover without lengthy regrowth tests. A reliable quick test of seedling vitality would ensure high quality of delivered seedlings_x000D_In general, more information on seedling condition will improve the level of control of the nursery manager and thus enhance efficiency of the production system. This will improve logistics, improve product quality, enable sustained culture practice and reduce product loss._x000D_Despite the economic importance fast, convenient and reliable assays are not yet available. The one exception is the ColdNSure assay, introduced to the market in 2007 by NSure. This is a molecular test for determining frost hardiness and can be used for decisions with respect to lifting or transfer to indoor frozen storage. It presents an example of how to develop broad decision support in forest tree nurseries, covering all problems described above. ColdNSure is a molecular diagnostic test, based on determining the level of activity of a selected set of indicator genes. It is the first example of the application of this technology for decision support in agroproduction chains. This project is aimed at expanding this technology to other quality aspects of growing seedlings, resulting in a quality management system that will support an integrated and cost efficient approach to nursery business. _x000D__x000D_The project will create decision support for critical control points (CCP) from seed to outplanting, with focus on the Swedish production methods. Several CCP’s became clear during the discussion preceeding this proposal. In the definition phase of this project an inventory will be made listing the exact type of information needed in order to support decisions (phase 1). Subsequently the required experimental set-up will be designed to allow identification of the molecular indicators that contain this information. The implementation of these trials and the validation of the selection will constitute the largest part of the work (phase 2). In the final stage of the project (phase 3) the selected indicator genes will be translated into a prototype assay and validated in a practical trial. At this stage decision criteria for use in practice will be formulated as well. Decision criteria and tests will be developed into a marketable interactive nursery management system by NSure, in the first year after finishing the project. _x000D__x000D_There is a strong demand from forest tree nurseries for easy to use, fast, and reliable quality assays. Molecular monitoring of forest tree seedling quality will facilitate nursery management and will improve cost-efficiency in nursery practice. The instruments and methodology envisaged in this project can be transposed to other types of agroproduction and distribution chains and thus will have a high market potential. _x000D__x000D_

Acronym Q-FORS (Reference Number: 4247)
Duration 01/08/2008 - 31/12/2010
Project Topic This project aims at the development of quality management tools for large scale forest tree nurseries. The tools will be based on molecular diagnostics and will be used to increase vitality of the seedlings, to facilitate an integrated culture, and to improve the economics of nursery business.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Within this project we aimed to find indicator genes that can determine the; vitality of seedlings during frozen storage, effect of a Long Night (LN) treatment and detection of a fungal infection (Botrytis cinerea) in pine and spruce seedlings. _x000D_In case for spruce, NSure revealed multiple indicators that can be used to determine the frost tolerance status of seedlings prior to storage and up to 30 indicators that can be used to determine the seedling condition during frozen storage. For pine we also identified several frost tolerance and vitality indicators. _x000D_NSure decided not to continue to identify LN indicators in pine, because of poor sampling. In case of spruce, NSure identified multiple LN indicators that can be used to determine the effect of a LN treatment._x000D_NSure identified a set of Botrytis specific genes that can be used to determine the infection rate._x000D_
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
3 Dalarna Hogskolan Partner Sweden
3 NSure BV Coordinator Netherlands
3 Svenska Skogsplantor AB Partner Sweden