Eucalyptus is the most planted hardwood genus in the world and its cultivation provides renewable resources for pulp and paper production, lumber industry, beekeeping, firewood and charcoal.
In a new study published by in silico Plants, a group of researchers have identified which Eucalyptus traits will be advantageous for high yield under climate change. They used the APSIM Next Generation Eucalyptus model to perform simulations of stemwood biomass yield using historical weather data and three future climate scenarios across contrasting environments in Brazil. A global sensitivity analysis was then employed to assess the impact of genetic traits on yield under present and future climate scenarios.
“Global sensitivity analysis has been widely applied to other crops. In this study it proved to be a powerful tool for identifying suitable Eucalyptus traits for adaptation to climate variability and change,” says lead author Elvis Felipe Elli of University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Traits for radiation use efficiency, leaf partitioning, canopy light capture, and fine root partitioning had the most impact on Eucalyptus yield for most environments under the present climate. While some of these traits will remain important under future climates, photosynthetic temperature response will have an increasing impact on yield.
The authors urge Eucalyptus breeding and management programs to use genotypes adapted to higher temperatures as a strategy to mitigate climate change impacts for plantations in tropical sites. Although average yield is projected to increase, on average, by 8-9% under future climate change, mostly driven by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, it will not be able to offset the negative impacts of high temperatures and reduced rainfall projected for some tropical environments.
The APSIM Next Generation Eucalyptus model is open access and freely available at: https://www.apsim.info/