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Genetic Variation of European Beech Populations and Their Progeny from Northeast Germany to Southwest Switzerland

Forest Genetics and Forest Tree Breeding, Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, University of Goettingen, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Physiological Plant Ecology, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, 3 Gubkina Str., 119333 Moscow, Russia
Laboratory of Foresty Genomics, Genome Research and Education Center, Siberian Federal University, 50a/2 Akademgorodok, 660036 Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, 2138 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-2138, USA
University of Kassel, Mönchebergstrasse 19, 34109 Kassel, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(8), 469;
Received: 20 June 2018 / Revised: 17 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 1 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecophysiology and Biology)
Climate change can adversely affect the growth of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) across its entire distribution range. Therefore, knowledge of the adaptive potential of this species to changing climatic conditions is of foremost importance. Genetic diversity is the basis for adaptation to environmental stress, and the regeneration phase of forests is a key stage affecting genetic diversity. Nevertheless, little is known about the effect of climate change on the genetic diversity of adult trees compared to their progeny. Here, we present genetic diversity data for 24 beech populations ranging from northeast Germany to southwest Switzerland. Potentially adaptive genetic variation was studied using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in candidate genes that are possibly involved in adaptive trait variation. In addition, more than 2000 adult trees and 3000 of their seedlings were genotyped with simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers to determine selectively neutral genetic diversity and differentiation among populations. All populations showed high SSR and SNP variation, and no differences in genetic diversity were found between adult trees and their offspring. The genetic differentiation between adults and seedlings within the same stands was also insignificant or very low. Therefore, we can conclude tentatively that the transfer of genetic variation among tree generations, currently, is not much affected by climate change, at least in the studied beech populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: European beech; genetic variation; climate change; adaptive potential European beech; genetic variation; climate change; adaptive potential
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Müller, M.; Cuervo-Alarcon, L.; Gailing, O.; K.C., R.; Chhetri, M.S.; Seifert, S.; Arend, M.; Krutovsky, K.V.; Finkeldey, R. Genetic Variation of European Beech Populations and Their Progeny from Northeast Germany to Southwest Switzerland. Forests 2018, 9, 469.

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