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Mol Ecol. 2010 Apr;19(8):1638-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04595.x. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Admixture facilitates adaptation from standing variation in the European aspen (Populus tremula L.), a widespread forest tree.

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1
Universidade Federal de Lavras, Caixa Postal 3037 DCF/UFLA, 37200-000 Lavras, MG, Brazil.

Abstract

Adaptation to new environments can start from new mutations or from standing variation already present in natural populations. Whether admixture constrains or facilitates adaptation from standing variation is largely unknown, especially in ecological keystone or foundation species. We examined patterns of neutral and adaptive population divergence in Populus tremula L., a widespread forest tree, using mapped molecular genetic markers. We detected the genetic signature of postglacial admixture between a Western and an Eastern lineage of P. tremula in Scandinavia, an area suspected to represent a zone of postglacial contact for many species of animals and plants. Stringent divergence-based neutrality tests provided clear indications for locally varying selection at the European scale. Six of 12 polymorphisms under selection were located less than 1 kb away from the nearest gene predicted by the Populus trichocarpa genome sequence. Few of these loci exhibited a signature of 'selective sweeps' in diversity-based tests, which is to be expected if adaptation occurs primarily from standing variation. In Scandinavia, admixture explained genomic patterns of ancestry and the nature of clinal variation and strength of selection for bud set, a phenological trait of great adaptive significance in temperate trees, measured in a common garden trial. Our data provide a hitherto missing direct link between past range shifts because of climatic oscillations, and levels of standing variation currently available for selection and adaptation in a terrestrial foundation species.

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