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Breeding and Biodiversity

Activity in brief ....
Identification and scientific description, in terms of morphology and genetics, of native poplar and willow genetic resources.
Creation and management of poplar and willow germplasm collections (seed, pollen, plant archives, arboreta for the collection of flowers and seeds) for use in breeding programmes and/or in river/environmental restoration activities.
Breeding and selection of poplar and willow clones suitable for the main industrial uses, for the production of woody biomass for energy, or which can be used for phytoremediation.

In the forestry sector, the existence of considerable genetic variability is a fundamental premise for sustainable use of genetic resources. The conservation of biodiversity is an essential factor both for safeguarding cultivated species and for the survival of natural ecosystems. In relation to poplars, too, the conservation of genetic resources is of strategic importance in that it permits a specific natural evolution in response to environmental changes, and it permits to carry out different breeding strategies providing both long-term and short-term positive results.
The modern development of poplar cultivation is essentially due to breeding, which, together with the evolution of cultivation techniques, has brought about an increase in yield and limitation of production losses. Since the main traits of general and economic interest growth rate, stem and crown shape, wood quality, resistance or tolerance towards diseases and pests are subject to genetic make-up, by careful choice of parent plants for use in cross-breeding programmes supported by effective selection strategies, considerable improvements can be made in a reasonably short time.
General aims and planning strategies

  • To select poplar clones which can withstand the main biotic adversities, such as leaf spot disease, rusts, spring defoliation and woolly aphid, with characteristics of rapid growth, adaptability to differing environmental and soil conditions and wood quality, and suitable both for intensive poplar cultivation and for short rotation forestry.
  • To make clones available which permit a high quality production while at the same time respecting and improving the environment, in order to achieve multi-clone poplar cultivation and to improve production by applying standards for the certification of poplar plantation management.
  • To utilize and put to value germplasm stock, in particular the native species typical of river ecosystems such as P. nigra, P. alba and Salix spp., for use in breeding programmes, in environmental applications, in phytoremediation and river restoration activities.

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Staff Research concluded () or ACTIVE()
Vietto Lorenzo

Rossino Renzo 

Mancin Antonio 




RGV - FAO (4 Triennio)


Poplar and willow breeding: crossings and progeny evaluation
Ecocertification of poplar cultivation
Germ plasm collections and utilisation of native species in environmental restoration and breeding
Evaluation of characters expressed by lines of Genetically Modified Poplar and their potential impact on the environment
RGV - FAO (2Triennio)

RGV - FAO (3 Triennio)


Poplar clone selection for industrial utilisation

Other activities

Collaboration with the FAO - International Poplar Commission to maintain the International Register of Poplar Clones and the World Directory of Poplar and Willow Experts.
Partecipation at meetings of the Executive Committee of the International Poplar Commission, of the National Poplar Commission and the Technical Committee for the Registration of Clones.
Partecipation with the SISEF and SIGA Working Groups.
Conservation of original stock of poplar clones listed in the National Register of Forest Clones.
Conservation of seed collections of both arboreal and shrubby plants for timber production outside natural forests