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Research article2015Peer reviewed

Low rates of pollen contamination in a Scots pine seed orchard in Sweden: the exception or the norm?

Funda, Tomas; Wennström, Ulfstand; Almqvist, Curt; Torimaru, T; Andersson Gull, Bengt; Wang, Xiao-Ru


We investigated mating structure and gene flow in a clonal seed orchard of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) over three consecutive pollination seasons (2010-2012) with nine nuclear microsatellite markers. The paternity of 1991 offspring from four maternal parents was assigned to 28 candidate fathers using an exclusion procedure and a likelihood-based method implemented in the program CERVUS. Relative reproductive success was highly variable among pollen parents but consistent across years and ranged from 0.1% to 18.3%. Consequently, the seed crops' effective number of fathers was reduced to 52.9%, 48.8%, and 45.7% of the census in the three seasons, respectively. Self-fertilization fluctuated around the orchard's expected value of 5.1%, reaching 4.05%, 7.71%, and 6.61%, respectively. Pollen contamination was estimated to be 5.64%, 7.29%, and 4.89%, respectively, after correction for cryptic gene flow. CERVUS provided similar results as the exclusion method, but estimates greatly varied depending on the input parameters, mainly the proportion of fathers sampled. These results indicate the studied seed orchard is a well-functioning production population with only minor negative effects of self-fertilization and pollen contamination on the quality of seed crops. Genotyping issues associated with microsatellites as a potential source of false paternity assignment and exclusion are discussed.


pollen contamination; mating structure; genotyping error; paternity assignment; seed orchard

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2015, Volume: 30, number: 7, pages: 573-586