Journal Article

Utility of Multilocus Genotypes for Taxon Assignment in Stands of Closely Related European White Oaks from Switzerland

Felix Gugerli, Sabine Brodbeck and Rolf Holderegger

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 5, pages 855-863
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn164
Utility of Multilocus Genotypes for Taxon Assignment in Stands of Closely Related European White Oaks from Switzerland

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

European white oaks (Quercus petraea, Q. pubescens, Q. robur) have long puzzled plant biologists owing to disputed species differentiation. Extensive hybridization or shared ancestry have been proposed as alternative hypotheses to explain why genetic differentiation between these oak species is low. Species delimitation is usually weak and often shows gradual transitions in leaf morphology. Hence, individual identification may be difficult, but remains a critical step for both scientific work and practical management.

Methods

Multilocus genotype data (five nuclear microsatellites) were used from ten Swiss oak stands for taxon identification without a priori grouping of individuals or populations, using model-based Bayesian assignment tests.

Key Results

Three groups best structured the data, indicating that the taxonomical signal was stronger than the spatial signal. Most individuals showed high posterior probabilities for either of three genetic groups that were best circumscribed as taxonomical units. The assignment of a subset of trees, whose taxonomic status had been previously characterized in detail, supported this classification scheme.

Conclusions

Molecular-genetic assignment tests are useful in the identification of species status in critical taxon complexes such as the European white oaks. Such an approach is of practical importance for forest management, e.g. for stand certification or in seed trade to trace the origin of forest products.

Keywords: Assignment test; Bayesian inference; multilocus genotype; nuclear microsatellites; Quercus sp.; species complex

Journal Article.  5319 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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