[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We assessed the adaptive potential of seed and leaf phenology in 10 natural populations of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) sampled along two altitudinal transects using common garden experiments. Population differentiation for both phenological traits was observed with high-altitude populations germinating and flushing later than low altitude ones. However, high genetic variation and heritability values were also maintained within populations, despite slightly decreasing for dates of leaf unfolding with increasing altitude. We suggest that biotic and abiotic fluctuating selection pressures within populations and high gene flow are the main mechanisms maintaining high genetic variation for these fitness related traits. Moreover, changes in selection intensity and/or selection pressures along the altitudinal gradient can explain the reduction in genetic variation observed for leaf phenology. We anticipate that the maintenance of high genetic variation will be a valuable resource for future adaptation of sessile oak populations undergoing an upslope shift caused by climate change.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology 07/2011; 24(7):1442-54. · 3.48 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Directional selection impacts a trait distribution by shifting its mean and reducing its variance. The change of variance is of major importance as the response to selection in subsequent generations is highly dependent of the genetic variability available in the population. In this contribution, evolution of genetic variation was investigated through the first breeding populations of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) breeding program. We considered three populations: P0 (the forest where plus trees were initially selected), G0 (the plus tree population) and G1 (the population composed of trees selected in the progenies of G0). Analyses focused on the following selected traits: total height (H), girth at 1.30 m (D) and stem deviation to verticality (S). More than 150,000 trees from 25 tests of three distinct populations were studied with an individual genetic model. Accurate genetic parameters were obtained by taking all relationships between trees into account. For H and D, we found a strong decrease of the genetic variation from P0 to G0 corresponding to the initial selection of plus trees, which constitutes the base population of the breeding program. Then, despite the second step of selection applied, no appreciable evolution arose from comparisons between G0 and G1 for these traits. For S, the evolution is less significant as phenotypic variation slightly increased, possibly due to changes of silvicultural practices.