Conifers normally go through a long juvenile period, for Norway spruce (Picea abies) around 20-25 years, before developing cones. This is a major obstacle for spruce breeding efforts. Researchers at Science for Life Laboratory – Stockholm in collaboration with colleagues at SLU (Uppsala) and Skogforsk have now managed to produce a spruce variety that can be made to set cones one year after planting. The spruce variety originates from a spruce mutant that was found outside of Uppsala more than 100 years ago. By using the next generation sequencing unit at Science for Life Laboratory coupled with advanced bioinformatics and molecular biology methods the researchers have identified a possible regulator of the early cone setting. The cone inducing properties of the early cone setting spruce will be used to enhance future breeding programs of Norway spruce.
Press release from Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU) (in Swedish)