Poplars (Populus spp.) comprise an important component of circumpolar boreal forest ecosystems and are the model species for tree genomics. In this study, we surveyed genetic variation and population differentiation in three nuclear genes among populations of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) in North America. We examined nucleotide sequence variation in alcohol dehydrogenase 1 (Adh1) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3pdh), two well-studied nuclear loci in plants, and abscisic acid insensitivity 1B (ABI1B), a locus coincident with timing of seasonal dormancy in quantitative trait locus (QTL) studies of hybrid poplars. We compared estimates of baseline population genetic parameters for these loci with those obtained in studies of other poplar species, particularly European aspen (Populus tremula). Average pairwise nucleotide diversity (πtot = 0.00216-0.00353) was equivalent to that in Populus trichocarpa, but markedly less than that in P. tremula. Elevated levels of population structure were observed in ABI1B between the northern and southern regions (FCT = 0.184, P < 0.001) and among populations (FST = 0.256, P < 0.001). These results suggest that geographic or taxonomic factors are important for understanding patterns of variation throughout the genus Populus. Our findings have the potential to aid in the design of sampling regimes for conservation and breeding stock and contribute to historical inferences regarding the factors that shaped the genetic diversity of boreal plant species.
- Boreal forest
- Nucleotide polymorphism
- Population structure
- Populus balsamifera (balsam poplar)
- Tree genomics