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Identifying seed sources for highly adaptable oak forests in a changing climate

Project Leader
Neophytou Charalambos, Project Leader
Duration:
01.04.2021-31.03.2024
Programme:
ERA-Net Biodiversa
Type of Research
Basic Research
Project partners
Agricultural Research and Policy General Directorate, Ankara, Turkey.
Contact person: Pelin Acar;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
AIT, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria.
Contact person: Eva-Maria Sehr;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Contact person: Filippos Aravanopoulos;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Eidgenoessiche Forschungsanstalt WSL, Switzerland.
Contact person: Christian Rellstab;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Forstliche Versuchs- und Forschungsanstalt Baden-Württemberg, Wonnhaldestraße 4, 79100 Freiburg, Germany.
Contact person: Jörg Kleinschmit;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Middle East Technical University, Dumlupinar Bulv. 1, 06800 Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey.
Contact person: Zeki Kaya;
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Staff
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Silviculture
Funded by
Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) , Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
Abstract
Given the pace of climate change, the question is raised whether local gene pools of forest trees will be able to adapt to the changing environmental conditions. Transfer of forest reproductive material (FRM) from arid sites might be needed for improving the capacity of forests to cope with increased drought and higher temperatures. Source populations for such plantations may originate (i) from lower latitudes or (ii) from arid sites within a larger region. However, current guidelines for FRM are strongly focused on local seed sources. Here, we propose the use of genetic and genomic tools in order to identify populations capable to cope with future drought-stress due to climate change. Our study regions are (i) Central Europe (covering Switzerland, Southern Germany and Austria) and (ii) The Eastern Mediterranean region covered by Greece and Turkey. Our study species are the three closely related white oaks Quercus robur, Q. petraea and Q. pubescens which are native to both regions. We raise the questions: (1) whether genes and genomic regions carry specific or shared imprints of adaptation at the regional (within regions) or at the continental scale (across regions); (2) whether we can identify associations between genotype and phenotype at traits involved in drought responses; (3) whether FRM transfer at the regional/continental scale will significantly increase the adaptive capacity of future forests and (4) which strategy of FRM transfer is optimal to increase benefits and decrease risks of such transfers. To answer these questions, we plan to characterize genomic signatures of local adaptation to drought within each region using environmental association analysis (EAA). In addition, we seek to reveal the genes underlying phenotypic traits under selection, applying a genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) between genotype and phenotype in two provenance trials. Based on these results, we will develop an innovative concept for FRM guidelines to the needs resulting from climate change. This concept will take adaptive genetic variation, as revealed by EAA and GWAS, into account. The participation of applied research institutes, which are also responsible for formulation of FRM guidelines, will ensure that all practical and policy-related aspects will be considered from the beginning of the project. Moreover, a wider network of stakeholders and policy makers from all cooperating countries will be involved from the beginning of the project and will be informed about research results and the concept for FRM guidelines in the framework of a workshop in the end of the project.
Keywords
Bioinformatics; Genetics; Genomics; Silviculture;
oak; Forest Reproductive Material; genomics; climate change; seed transfer guidelines; drought adaptation;
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