blue spruce color heritability

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Mon Sep 29 15:48:32 EST 1997

At  4:23 PM 9/29/97 +0000, William J. Buikema wrote:
>        My father-in-law grows some blue spruces in Michigan part time, and
>has told me (and shown me) that the blue color varies considerably from tree
>to tree.  Apparently the color does not develop at the seedling stage, so
>when the fields are planted, there is no way to tell how 'blue' any seedling
>will become.
>        Does anyone have any ideas about why the seedlings that are planted
>cannot be derived from sources that will guarantee the strong blue color in
>less than a random fashion?  Being a geneticist, it seems to me that continued
>selection for the color and careful selection of propagation sources should
>ensure efficient selection of the desired traits.  Does anyone have a better
>feel for this?


I'm not sure about blue spruce, but several ideas come
to mind.  First, the blue could be caused by irridescence
rather than pigment. Second, the blue could be caused by
wax deposited over green. These modifications would be,
like so many phenotypic expressions, a function of both
genetics as well as environment.  The combinations are

If the blue is a chloroplast pigment situation, then its
inheritance could be maternal (or paternal!) rather than
following nuclear inheritance patterns.  In plants the
egg and sperm do not contribute equally to zygotes...I
don't know whether the relative plastid contributions
have been figured out for spruce.

One possible contact would be Scott Russell of the
University of Oklahoma.  He has studied the ultrastructure
of sperm in more detail than anyone I know, but I don't
know if his work includes spruce.


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