Department of Genetics and Physiology of Forest Trees

Department of Genetics and Physiology of Forest Trees

News: @KGFLD_Prague

Geneticists and physiologists at the Faculty of Forestry in Prague have consistently ranked among the world's best. Their activity at the faculty (restored in 1990) followed on from the pioneers of forestry biology at the original Forestry Faculty at the Czech Technical University, which was transformed in the mid-1960s into the Scientific Forestry Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, based in Kostelec nad Černými lesy. Prof.  Vladimír Chalupa contributed significantly to developing the original protocol of somatic embryogenesis of forest trees. His work was groundbreaking worldwide in the 1980s. Prof. Jaroslav Kobliha conducted hybridization research within the genus Abies with several valuable outputs, including the pest resistance of hybrid offspring. Both contributed to the development of these fields, especially by educating forest engineers in undergraduate programs and doctoral students.

The forest trees physiology at the Department has transformed into the stress physiology of plants. The investigation of bark beetles and pathogenic fungi on photosynthesis, transpiration and accumulation of substances of primary and secondary metabolism is performed. EU-supported faculty projects (EVA and EXTEMIT-K) provide financial means for the purchase of state-of-the-art technical equipment, e.g. liquid chromatograph with a mass spectrometer, isotopes ratio mass spectroscopy, six growth chambers, Leica DVM6 microscope and binoculars. Data collection for physiological measurements takes place both in permanent areas in forest ecosystems (e.g. Ore Mountains, Forest Enterprise Kostelec n.Č.l.) and in the laboratories where the determination of enzymes and proteins associated with stress (proline, dehydrins, CAT) are done. Assoc. prof. Ivana Tomášková was employed at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, combines basic and applied research, innovated teaching and cooperates with a number of important institutions in the Czech Republic (Czechglobe Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Faculty of Science, UK). As part of Erasmus, she also established short-term cooperation with institutions abroad (INRA Bordeaux, Nancy and CIRAD France).

The field of forest genetics is divided into two primary specializations: genetics of quantitative traits with practical applications in forestry and nature conservation and population genetics and genomics. Prof. Milan Lstibůrek joined the faculty in 2005 after completing his doctoral studies at the North Carolina State University in the USA as a specialist in the genetics of quantitative traits (statistical genetics). His original work covers spatial layouts of seed orchards, breeding strategies based on pedigree reconstruction; he is the author of original scientific work in general genetics, the concept of „realized heritability in a panmictic population“. The domain of Dr. Jan Stejskal is the statistical evaluation of complex experiments with the connection of physiological and genetic data. His research includes the design and evaluation of comparative experiments based on growth and physiological traits. He currently focuses on evaluating adaptive traits of selected populations (fertility, phenology, etc.) to test the usability of genetic correlations between physiological, adaptive, and production traits.

The molecular genetic laboratory generates the molecular data necessary for most genetic studies. The facility is fully equipped to isolate informative macromolecular substances (oscillating mill) and subsequent analytical methods (PCR and RT-PCR cyclers, laminar box and hood, spectrophotometers, electrophoretic cells, and imaging equipment). The team of doctoral students and young scientists participated in the laboratory activities. Dr. Jiří Korecký focuses on the applied use of microsatellite markers, which find use in population-genetic studies when revealing kinship, to reconstruct pedigree (pollen contamination, verifying the origin of reproductive material) or when determining the degree of mutual kinship between individuals (kinship matrix as input parameter for linear mixed models). Recently, he has also focused on analyzing and interpreting data obtained by new-generation sequencing methods (GBS, SNP chip, RNAseq). Dr. Jaroslav Čepl focuses on the evaluation of rich phenotypic data such as metabolomic profiles, hyperspectral reflectance, or photosynthesis parameters viewed through chlorophyll fluorescence. His endeavor comprises mapping the genetic variability along the reflectance and fluorescence curves and seeking its connection with other physiological and growth parameters. At the same time, he conducts population simulation studies (either on bacterial colonies or on forest trees) and participates in the evaluation of population genetic data. His favorite teaching subject is evolutionary biology.