Local selection across a latitudinal gradient shapes nucleotide diversity in balsam poplar, populus balsamifera L

Stephen R. Keller, Nicholas Levsen, Pär K. Ingvarsson, Matthew S. Olson, Peter Tiffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Molecular studies of adaptive evolution often focus on detecting selective sweeps driven by positive selection on a specieswide scale; however, much adaptation is local, particularly of ecologically important traits. Here, we look for evidence of range-wide and local adaptation at candidate genes for adaptive phenology in balsam poplar, Populus balsamifera, a widespread forest tree whose range extends across environmental gradients of photoperiod and growing season length. We examined nucleotide diversity of 27 poplar homologs of the flowering-time network-a group of genes that control plant developmental phenology through interactions with environmental cues such as photoperiod and temperature. Only one gene, ZTL2, showed evidence of reduced diversity and an excess of fixed replacement sites, consistent with a species-wide selective sweep. Two other genes, LFY and FRI, harbored high levels of nucleotide diversity and exhibited elevated differentiation between northern and southern accessions, suggesting local adaptation along a latitudinal gradient. Interestingly, FRI has also been identified as a target of local selection between northern and southern accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana, indicating that this gene may be commonly involved in ecological adaptation in distantly related species. Our findings suggest an important role for local selection shaping molecular diversity and reveal limitations of inferring molecular adaptation from analyses designed only to detect species-wide selective sweeps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)941-952
Number of pages12
JournalGenetics
Volume188
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

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