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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Hybridization and Adaptive Divergence in Oaks

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Oliver Gailing and Jennifer Riehl

Published May 2016 International Oaks No. 27: 91–98


Ecologically divergent, but hybridizing oaks provide a model to identify genomic regions and underlying genes that may be involved in adaptive species differences and reproductive isolation between species. Scoring of potentially neutral genomic and of genic microsatellites in two Red Oak species, Quercus rubra L. and Q. ellipsoidalis E.J. Hill, with different adaptations to drought revealed a set of candidate genes for stress tolerance and phenology. Thus, a trinucleotide microsatellite located in the coding sequence of a putative CONSTANS-like (COL) gene was nearly fixed on alternate alleles in the drought-tolerant Q. ellipsoidalis and in the drought-averse Q. rubra. Microsatellite size variation corresponded to size variation in a poly (E) repeat. In other studies, a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism in the same COL gene was associated with the timing of vegetative bud burst in Q. petraea (Matt.) Liebl. and variation in poly (E) repeat length in COL2B was associated with growth cessation in Populus tremula L. Next generation sequencing such as Restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) will be used for genome-wide outlier screens. With the availability of the whole genome sequence of Quercus robur L. chromosome-anchored high-density linkage maps can be used to compare the distribution of outlier genomic regions across oak species and to test for a co-location of Quantitative Trait Loci for adaptive species differences with outlier genomic regions.


Quercus rubra, Quercus ellipsoidalis, speciation, candidate genes


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