DOI: 10.3390/f14122358 ISSN: 1999-4907

Study of the Genetic Adaptation Mechanisms of Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica Ledeb.) Regarding Climatic Stresses Based on Dendrogenomic Analysis

Serafima V. Novikova, Natalia V. Oreshkova, Vadim V. Sharov, Dina F. Zhirnova, Liliana V. Belokopytova, Elena A. Babushkina, Konstantin V. Krutovsky
  • Forestry

Dendrogenomics is a new interdisciplinary approach that allows joint analysis of dendrological and genomic data and opens up new ways to study the temporal dynamics of forest treelines, delineate spatial and temporal population structures, decipher individual tree responses to abiotic and biotic stresses, and evaluate the adaptive genetic potential of forest tree populations. These data are needed for the prediction of climate change effects and mitigation of the negative effects. We present here an association analysis of the variation of 27 individual tree traits, including adaptive dendrophenotypes reflecting the individual responses of trees to drought stress, such as the resistance (Rt), recovery (Rc), resilience (Rs), and relative resilience (RRs) indexes measured in 136 Siberian larch trees in 5 populations in the foothills of the Batenevsky Ridge (Kuznetsk Alatau, Republic of Khakassia, Russia), with variation of 9742 SNPs genotyped using ddRADseq in the same trees. The population structure of five closely located Siberian larch populations was relatively weak (FST = 0.018). We found that the level of individual heterozygosity positively correlated with the Rc and RR indices for the five studied drought periods and partly with the Rs indices for three drought periods. It seems that higher individual heterozygosity improves the adaptive capabilities of the tree. We also discovered a significant negative relationship between individual heterozygosity and the Rt index in four out of five periods, which means that growth slows down during droughts more in trees with higher individual heterozygosity and is likely associated with energy and internal resource reallocation toward more efficient water and energy usage and optimization of larch growth during drought years. We found 371 SNPs with potentially adaptive variations significantly associated with the variation of adaptive dendrophenotypes based on all three different methods of association analysis. Among them, 26 SNPs were located in genomic regions carrying functional genes: 21 in intergenic regions and 5 in gene-coding regions. Based on the obtained results, it can be assumed that these populations of Siberian larch have relatively high standing adaptive genetic variation and adaptive potential underlying the adaptations of larch to various climatic conditions.

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