Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic Data Can Help Predict How Pine Forests Will Cope with Climate Change

05.03.2015

Gene variants influence maritime pine survival under climate stress

Data from only a small number of gene variants can predict which maritime pine trees are most vulnerable to climate change, scientists report in the March issue of GENETICS. The results will improve computer models designed to forecast where forests will grow as the climate changes, and promises to help forestry managers decide where to focus reforestation efforts. The results will also guide the choice of tree stocks.


Santiago C. González-Martínez.

Maritime pine forest in Serra Calderona, eastern Spain. Typical Mediterranean forests as the one pictured here are under severe risk due to summer droughts and wildfire. It is expected that extinction risk of this valuable ecosystem will increase due to climate change.

The maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) grows widely in southwestern Europe and parts of northern Africa. But the tree's important economic value and ecological roles in the region may be at risk as the changing climate threatens the more vulnerable forests and the productivity of commercial plantations.

To predict which regions will sustain pine forests in the future, researchers and managers rely on computer models. But these forecasts don't take into account two major factors that influence a forest's fate: genetics and evolution. Genetic differences between tree populations mean that forests vary in how well they cope with warmer, drier conditions. Ongoing evolution of trees also influences the prevalence of these genetic differences; for example, trees with gene variants allowing them to withstand higher temperatures will become increasingly common as the climate changes.

"These genetic effects are not included in forest range shift models, but we know they can completely change the resulting predictions. Our goal was to identify such effects in a way that can be readily incorporated into the forecasts," said study leader Santiago González-Martínez, from the Forest Research Centre of Spain's Institute for Agricultural Research (CIFOR-INIA).

To find genetic variants that affect the species’ fitness in different climate conditions, maritime pine researchers from around the world pooled their expertise and the results of previous research, yielding a list of more than 300 variants in 200 candidate genes. Creating a shortlist of targets is considerably faster and more economical than searching the entire genome of the maritime pine, which is about nine times larger than the human genome.

From this list, the team tested whether any of the candidates were more common in regions that shared similar climates. Such geographic patterns can be the result of natural selection and point to gene variants that influence tree survival and reproduction according to climate. By testing the frequency of each variant at 36 locations in Portugal, Spain, France, Morocco, and Tunisia, the researchers found 18 variants that showed correlations with the local climate. These variants affected genes involved in many different biological processes, including growth and response to heat stress.

The researchers then looked for evidence that these variants are important for the trees’ fitness by planting seedlings from 19 of the locations together in a dry part of Spain, at the extreme end of the species' climatic range. This allowed the team to compare how well genetically different trees would survive under similar conditions. After five years, the seedlings carrying gene variants predicted to be beneficial in the local climate indeed tended to have higher survival rates.

These results demonstrate the feasibility of this relatively fast approach of finding and confirming genetic variants associated with climate. "Now that we have shown that the method works well, we are planning similar experiments on a bigger scale, with more test sites, looking at more genes, and different traits. For example, the single biggest climate change threat to pine forests is the increased frequency of wildfires, so we're searching for variants that affect fire tolerance," said González-Martínez.

"Good decisions require good data, and this collaborative work shows how crucial genetic data can be for managing biodiversity and commercial forestry amid a changing climate," said GENETICS Editor-in-Chief Mark Johnston.

CITATION:
Molecular Proxies for Climate Maladaptation in a Long-Lived Tree (Pinus pinaster Aiton, Pinaceae)
Juan-Pablo Jaramillo-Correa, Isabel Rodríguez-Quilón, Delphine Grivet, Camille Lepoittevin, Federico Sebastiani, Myriam Heuertz, Pauline H. Garnier-Géré, Ricardo Alía, Christophe Plomion, Giovanni G. Vendramin, and Santiago C. González-Martínez

GENETICS March 2015 199:793-807 doi:10.1534/genetics.114.173252
http://www.genetics.org/content/199/3/793.full

FUNDING:
The study was funded by grants from the European Commission (FP6 NoE EvolTree and FP7 NovelTree Breeding), the Spanish National Research Plan (ClonaPin, RTA2010-00120-C02-01; VaMPiro, CGL2008-05289-C02-01/02; AdapCon, CGL2011-30182-C02-01; and AFFLORA, CGL2012-40129-C02-02), the Italian Science Ministry (MIUR project ‘Biodiversitalia’, RBAP10A2T4), and the ERA-Net BiodivERsA (LinkTree project, EUI2008-03713), which included the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness as national funder (part of the 2008 BiodivERsA call for research proposals).

Institutions involved in research:
Forest Research Centre, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria, Spain
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
University of Bordeaux
Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources, National Research Council, Italy
University of Lausanne

Contact Information
Cristy Gelling
cgelling@thegsajournals.org
Phone: +1 412-478-3537

Cristy Gelling | newswise

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht How much soil goes down the drain -- New data on soil lost due to water
18.12.2017 | European Commission Joint Research Centre

nachricht Cascading use is also beneficial for wood
11.12.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>