Journal Article

Multi-stemmed trees of <i>Nothofagus pumilio</i> second-growth forest in Patagonia are formed by highly related individuals

Irène Till-Bottraud, Alex Fajardo and Delphine Rioux

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 4, pages 905-913
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online July 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcs146
Multi-stemmed trees of Nothofagus pumilio second-growth forest in Patagonia are formed by highly related individuals

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

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Background and Aims

Multi-stemmed trees (tree clusters) in Nothofagus pumilio, a dominant tree species in Patagonia, are very uncommon and are restricted to the edge of second-growth forests following human-provoked fires. No vegetative reproduction has been reported so far. The genetic structure of multi-stemmed trees of this species was investigated and it was hypothesized that genets within a cluster were more closely related than average in the population.

Methods

Fifteen clusters (composed of at least three purported stems) and 15 single trees were sampled at the edge of a second-growth forest and genotyped using two amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) primer pairs. We obtained 119 polymorphic markers that allowed clonality to be determined, together with sibship structure and relatedness among samples.

Key Results

Clonality was detected in seven clusters but all clusters had at least two different genotypes. Full sibs were found exclusively within clusters and in all clusters. Within a cluster, stems that were not identified as full sibs were often half sibs. Relatedness values for the full sibs and half sibs were higher than the theoretical values of 0·5 and 0·25 but the relatedness between clusters was very low.

Conclusions

Tree clusters that are merged at the edge of the second-growth forest of N. pumilio are composed of stems of the same genotype and of other genotypes that are highly related (but not always). It is suggested that this peculiar genetic structure results from a combination of several causes, including selection for merging of related individuals.

Keywords: AFLP; multi-stemmed trees; Patagonia; post-fire regeneration; sibship structure

Journal Article.  6700 words.  Illustrated.

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

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