Tree Genetics & Genomes

, 14:10 | Cite as

Linking phenotype, genotype and environment to unravel genetic components underlying cold hardiness in coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii)

  • Carl VangestelEmail author
  • Andrew J. Eckert
  • Jill L. Wegrzyn
  • J. Bradley St. Clair
  • David B. Neale
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Adaptation


Global climate change may detrimentally affect future generations of numerous forest tree species, hampering their long-term sustainability if appropriate evolutionary responses remain lacking. To face these novel threats, conservation biologists are in need of a thorough understanding and identification of adaptive variation in key fitness traits. We here provide an elaborate synthesis of pre-existing and novel analyses of an association mapping, genecological and landscape genomic study integrating genotypic, environmental and phenotypic data to gain insights into the genetic basis of cold-hardiness adaptation in coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii). Data were collected across part of the natural range for a total of 643 individuals. A landscape genomic approach revealed 28 putative non-neutral genes, although a variance partitioning analysis indicated only moderate power of this gene set in explaining cold-hardiness-related phenotypic variation, and suggests many important genes await discovery. Integrating these results within the entire phenotype-genotype-environment spectrum allowed us to delineate the six most promising candidate genes under selection. By combining genomic, phenotypic and environmental data, this study attempts to gain insights in the genetic basis of key adaptations, which may ultimately aid forestry managers to establish resilient ecosystems in face of future climate change.


Coastal Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii Cold-hardiness Adaptation Landscape genomics 



We are indebted to John Liechty for his invaluable bioinformatics assistance. Funding for this project was made available through a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative Plant Genome grant (04-712-0084). A postdoctoral fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) and a travel grant from the Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO) was awarded to CV.

Data archiving statement

Genotypic, phenotypic and environmental data has been deposited in the Figshare Database and has been made accessible using the provisional DOI

Supplementary material

11295_2017_1225_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 5.80 mb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.O.D. Taxonomy & PhylogenyRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Terrestrial Ecology UnitGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  5. 5.Department Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  6. 6.USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA

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