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Mol Ecol. 2006 Oct;15(11):3469-80.

Natural selection and climate change: temperature-linked spatial and temporal trends in gene frequency in Fagus sylvatica.

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  • 1Unitat d'Ecofisiologia CSIC-CEAB-CREAF, CREAF (Centre de Recerca Ecològica i Aplicacions Forestals), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain. a.s.jump@creaf.uab.cat


Rapid increases in global temperature are likely to impose strong directional selection on many plant populations, which must therefore adapt if they are to survive. Within populations, microgeographic genetic differentiation of individuals with respect to climate suggests that some populations may adapt to changing temperatures in the short-term through rapid changes in gene frequency. We used a genome scan to identify temperature-related adaptive differentiation of individuals of the tree species Fagus sylvatica. By combining molecular marker and dendrochronological data we assessed spatial and temporal variation in gene frequency at the locus identified as being under selection. We show that gene frequency at this locus varies predictably with temperature. The probability of the presence of the dominant marker allele shows a declining trend over the latter half of the 20th century, in parallel with rising temperatures in the region. Our results show that F. sylvatica populations may show some capacity for an in situ adaptive response to climate change. However as reported ongoing distributional changes demonstrate, this response is not enough to allow all populations of this species to persist in all of their current locations.

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