Luquez V, Hall D, Albrectsen BR, Karlsson J, Ingvarsson P, Jansson S
Natural phenological variation in aspen (Populus tremula): the SwAsp collection
Tree Genetics & Genomes: 2008 4:279-292

The genus Populus is currently the main model system for genetic, genomic, and physiological research in trees. Phenotypic variation in aspen (Populus tremula) populations growing in different environments across Sweden is expected to reflect genetic variation that is important for local adaptation. To analyze such natural phenotypic and genetic variation, the Swedish Aspen (SwAsp) Collection was established. Trees were taken from 12 different populations across Sweden, from 56° to 66° latitude north and planted in two common gardens in Ekebo (55.9°N) and Sävar (63.4°N). Data related to phenological and growth traits were collected during the second year of growth. Some traits like the date of bud set and leaf area duration showed strong clinal variation patterns with latitude in both field trials, but the date of bud flush did not change along a latitudinal cline. The phenological traits showed moderate within-populations heritabilities, although growth traits showed weaker clinal patterns and lower heritabilities than the phenological traits. This research forms the starting point for the development of the SwAsp collection, a resource facilitating analysis of the natural genetic variation in aspen, the elucidation of the structure and dynamics of aspen populations, and the future identification of the genes controlling adaptive traits using association mapping of selected candidate genes.

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