Canadian forests are the engine of an important economical activity. However, climate change will force forestry practices to adapt more or less rapidly to changing environmental conditions. Our objective is to bring to the forest sector genomic tools to evaluate more rapidly and monitor more efficiently natural genetic resources. The final aim is to deploy efficient conservation measures for genetic diversity and speed up the development of adapted and productive seedling varieties.

Structural and comparative genomics studies are being conducted, including the sequencing and mapping of conifer genomes, deciphering the genomic architecture of quantitative traits, constructing gene catalogues and registries of hundreds of thousands of SNPs, and testing and adapting high-throughput genotyping approaches.

The second focus is to characterize the natural genetic variation of forest species for conservation purposes, by analyzing its geographical structure at landscape and natural range levels.  Phylogeographical variation related to history is being disentangled from that related to natural selection using genomic scans. Hybrid zones between species are also investigated, whether of natural origin or caused by forest management practices.

The last focus is about functional genomics and genomic prediction systems for traits related to adaptation and productivity, with the aim to accelerate breeding and selection decisions in the context of climate change and short rotation forestry. This activity implicates the characterization of the transcriptome and the epigenome, and the development and application of marker selection systems and genomic selection models in conifer breeding programs.