• Vegetative propagation of dieback-tolerant Fraxinus excelsior on

      Douglas, Gerry C.; Namara, J.M.; O'Connell, K.; Dunne, L.; Grant, Jim; European Co-Operation in Science and Technology; FP1103 (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2017)
      Ash trees which are tolerant to Hymenoscyphus fraxineus may be selected in all age classes among heavily infected populations. They may be produced also by controlled crossings of disease tolerant trees, because the genetic component of inheritance for disease tolerance is high. For mature and juvenile plant material, the deployment of disease tolerant genotypes could be potentially achieved by vegetatively propagating selected genotypes. We describe a system to vegetatively propagate selected ash genotypes and we discuss the prospects and options for using vegetative propagation on all age classes of trees. Mature trees were rejuvenated through the process of micropropagation to establish mother plants in large trays which were cut back repeatedly (hedged) to produce at least two crops of cuttings per year. The rooting capacity of ten genotypes was tested by a commercial nursery over a period of three years, to assess the feasibility of using hedged mother plants for efficient propagation. Commercial practise was to treat cuttings with 0.25% IBA, insert them in plug pots and maintain them covered with fine plastic within low plastic tunnels in a non heated greenhouse and without supplementary heating at the cutting base. In the first year, the mean rooting rate was 53 % for the first crop of cuttings and 35 % for the second. In the second and third years the rooting rates improved to over 80% for each crop of cuttings as experience was gained in handling the material. Rooting rate varied among the genotypes. We assessed the growth and development of micropropagated ash trees in the field from an observation clonal trial, consisting of four mature genotypes which had been established in 2002 in five replicate plots. The micropropagated trees were generally similar in height and dbh to seed derived control trees and developed normally. These observations are discussed in the context of using vegetative propagation as a tool in breeding and for the large scale deployment of ash with tolerance to H. fraxineus.