Divergent patterns between phenotypic and genetic variation in Scots pine
Plant Commun. 2020 Dec 29;2(1):100139
Hall D, Olsson J, Zhao W, Kroon J, Wennström U, Wang XR

In boreal forests, autumn frost tolerance in seedlings is a critical fitness component because it determines survival rates during regeneration. To understand the forces that drive local adaptation in this trait, we conducted freezing tests in a common garden setting for 54 Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) populations (>5000 seedlings) collected across Scandinavia into western Russia, and genotyped 24 of these populations (>900 seedlings) at >10 000 SNPs. Variation in cold hardiness among populations, as measured by Q ST , was above 80% and followed a distinct cline along latitude and longitude, demonstrating significant adaptation to climate at origin. In contrast, the genetic differentiation was very weak (mean F ST 0.37%). Despite even allele frequency distribution in the vast majority of SNPs among all populations, a few rare alleles appeared at very high or at fixation in marginal populations restricted to northwestern Fennoscandia. Genotype-environment associations showed that climate variables explained 2.9% of the genetic differentiation, while genotype-phenotype associations revealed a high marker-estimated heritability of frost hardiness of 0.56, but identified no major loci. Very extensive gene flow, strong local adaptation, and signals of complex demographic history across markers are interesting topics of forthcoming studies on this species to better clarify signatures of selection and demography.

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