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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058416. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Chemical variation in a dominant tree species: population divergence, selection and genetic stability across environments.

Author information

1
School of Plant Science, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. joreilly@utas.edu.au

Abstract

Understanding among and within population genetic variation of ecologically important plant traits provides insight into the potential evolutionary processes affecting those traits. The strength and consistency of selection driving variability in traits would be affected by plasticity in differences among genotypes across environments (G×E). We investigated population divergence, selection and environmental plasticity of foliar plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) in a dominant tree species, Eucalyptus globulus. Using two common garden trials we examined variation in PSMs at multiple genetic scales; among 12 populations covering the full geographic range of the species and among up to 60 families within populations. Significant genetic variation in the expression of many PSMs resides both among and within populations of E. globulus with moderate (e.g., sideroxylonal A h(2)op = 0.24) to high (e.g., macrocarpal G h(2)op = 0.48) narrow sense heritabilities and high coefficients of additive genetic variation estimated for some compounds. A comparison of Qst and Fst estimates suggest that variability in some of these traits may be due to selection. Importantly, there was no genetic by environment interaction in the expression of any of the quantitative chemical traits despite often significant site effects. These results provide evidence that natural selection has contributed to population divergence in PSMs in E. globulus, and identifies the formylated phloroglucinol compounds (particularly sideroxylonal) and a dominant oil, 1,8-cineole, as candidates for traits whose genetic architecture has been shaped by divergent selection. Additionally, as the genetic differences in these PSMs that influence community phenotypes is stable across environments, the role of plant genotype in structuring communities is strengthened and these genotypic differences may be relatively stable under global environmental changes.

PMID:
23526981
PMCID:
PMC3603948
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0058416
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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