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Plant Focus

Quercus skinneri
Quercus skinneri is a Central American oak, distinguished by the large size of its fruit.

The Pace of Microevolution of European Oaks During Environmental Change

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Antoine Kremer

Published May 2016 International Oaks No. 27: 267–276

Abstract

There is a large body of evidence stemming from traditional provenance experiments, but also from more recent genomic analysis, showing that oak populations differentiated during past environmental changes. How much evolutionary change accumulates within each population at a given time span remains however largely unknown, and is of the utmost importance for future predictions. Exploring the pace at which evolutionary change has taken place in sessile oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl.) a widespread European White Oak, during past gradual, and under current rapid, environmental change is the main focus of the TREEPEACE project. This project builds on the reconstruction of evolutionary trajectories during the Holocene and Anthropocene and assembles insights from paleobotany, ecology, ecophysiology, genetics, genomics, and evolution to track and monitor past and ongoing genetic changes during well documented historical warming periods: the postglacial period, the period following the Little Ice Age, and contemporary times. Part of the investigation is based on fossil remains while analysis on extant but very old stands is used to document molecular changes at targeted sites in the genome. Monitoring of various adaptive phenotypic traits at two successive generations allows investigators to identify the target traits of natural selection triggered by ongoing climate change. I will report on the results of ancient DNA analysis retrieved from various fossil remains of the Holocene, and on the gradient of selections observed in various adaptive phenotypic traits.

Keywords

ancient DNA, TREEPEACE, Anthropocene

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