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Forest trees possess high genetic diversity and high heterozygosity which allow adaptation to changing environmental conditions. There is a tendency to propagate successful and unique genotypes, which are identified at their mature stage in the forests, for future improvement programs and conservation purposes. However, vegetative propagation of mature forest trees is still a challenge in many conifers. In this study, we focused on improving the rooting of cuttings of mature and old Pinus halepensis and its hybrids. We observed that storage of cuttings before rooting at 4°C for 4 weeks and prolong immersion of cuttings in a solution containing 400 mg/l of indole-3-butyric acid, 5 mg/l of the auxin conjugate 2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)propanoic acid-glycine methyl ester, and 0.01% of Amistar fungicide significantly improved rooting of mature cuttings. The active ingredient in Amistar is azoxystrobin, an uncoupler of respiration, which seems to directly promote rooting. Rooted cuttings of selected clones demonstrated unique and uniform growth performance, most likely delivering the intrinsic growth parameters of the mother trees. It was also observed that trees growing under drought stress possess improved rooting ability. By using rooted cuttings, it will be possible to study the relationship between growth rate and adaptation to semi-arid climate conditions. The ability to clonal propagate mature and old P. halepensis trees not only enables vegetative propagation of elite trees for improvement programs, but also provides an opportunity to preserve unique naturally occurring old P. halepensis genotypes.

In: Israel Journal of Plant Sciences