Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 215-221

First online:

Do molecular markers reflect patterns of differentiation in adaptive traits of conifers?

  • A. KarhuAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu
  • , P. HurmeAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu
  • , M. KarjalainenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu
  • , P. KarvonenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu
  • , K. KärkkäinenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu
  • , D. NealeAffiliated withUSDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Institute of Forest Genetics
  • , O. SavolainenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Oulu

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We have examined patterns of variation of several kinds of molecular markers (isozymes, RFLPs of ribosomal DNA and anonymous low-copy number DNA, RAPDs and microsatellites) and an adaptive trait [date of bud set in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.)]. The study included Finnish Scots pine populations (from latitude 60°N to 70°N) which experience a steep climatic gradient. Common garden experiments show that these populations are adapted to the location of their origin and genetically differentiated in adaptive quantitative traits, e.g. the date of bud set in first-year seedlings. In the northernmost population, bud set took place about 21 days earlier than in the southernmost population. Of the total variation in bud set, 36.4% was found among the populations. All molecular markers showed high levels of within-population variation, while differentiation among populations was low. Among all the studied markers, microsatellites were the most variable (He=0.77). Differences between populations were small, GST was less than 0.02. Our study suggests that molecular markers may be poor predictors of the population differentiation of quantitative traits in Scots pine, as exemplified here by bud-set date.

Key words

Scots pine Molecular markers Isozymes Population structure Adaptive genetic variation