Genomic basis for drought resistance in European beech forests threatened by climate change
In the course of global climate change, central Europe is experiencing more frequent and prolonged periods of drought. The drought years 2018 and 2019 affected European beeches (Fagus sylvatica L.) differently: even in the same stand, drought damaged trees neighboured healthy trees, suggesting that the genotype rather than the environment was responsible for this conspicuous pattern. We used this natural experiment to study the genomic basis of drought resistance with Pool-GWAS. Contrasting the extreme phenotypes identified 106 significantly associated SNPs throughout the genome. Most annotated genes with associated SNPs (>70%) were previously implicated in the drought reaction of plants. Non-synonymous substitutions led either to a functional amino acid exchange or premature termination. A SNP-assay with 70 loci allowed predicting drought phenotype in 98.6% of a validation sample of 92 trees. Drought resistance in European beech is a moderately polygenic trait that should respond well to natural selection, selective management, and breeding.
Sequencing data have been deposited at ENA under project code PRJEB41889.The genome assembly including the annotation is available under the Access. No. PRJNA450822.
Genomic basis of drought resistance in Fagus sylvatica by PoolGWASEuropean Nucleotide Archive, PRJEB40079.
Article and author information
There was no particular funding for this work; all work was financed by regular budgets
- Meredith C Schuman, University of Zurich, Switzerland
- Received: December 7, 2020
- Accepted: June 7, 2021
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 16, 2021 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: July 8, 2021 (version 2)
© 2021, Pfenninger et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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Funding: RD is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R35-GM124836) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH (R01-HL139865 and R01-HL155915).