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A comparative analysis of population structure of a forest tree, Eucalyptus globulus (Myrtaceae), using microsatellite markers and quantitative traits

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Abstract

Eucalyptus globulus (Myrtaceae) is a forest tree native to southeastern Australia, but is grown globally for pulpwood and timber. Eight microsatellite loci were used to determine the degree of selectively neutral differentiation between native populations of the geographic races of E. globulus that are used in a national breeding programme. Spatial differentiation was detected among 340 samples from across the species range (F ST=0.09±0.02). Analysis of molecular variance showed that there was significant variation between the races, and an unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean analysis of Nei’s genetic distance between races showed that geographically proximal races tended to be more closely related than geographically distant races. This contrasted markedly with analyses based on quantitative genetic data, where some races appeared to be highly divergent from their geographically closest neighbours. Comparison of racial differentiation based on quantitative (Q ST) and molecular (F ST) data suggested that at least five of the quantitative traits used for defining races of E. globulus have been influenced by natural selection, resulting in cases of both phenotypic divergence of parapatric races and phenotypic convergence of allopatric races. We conclude that selectively neutral molecular markers are more useful than quantitative genetic data for identifying the evolutionary affinities and lineages within E. globulus. However, both sources of information should be used in defining evolutionarily important units for conservation. The population structure observed in E. globulus has important consequences for future association studies and may also affect breeding strategies if significant genome co-adaptation has occurred.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Production Forestry and the Australian Research Council (ARC). We would like to thank Martyn Lavery (Arianda Pty. Ltd.), the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, Susan Foster, Jules Freeman, Greg Dutkowski, Tim Jones, Rachel Lawrence and Paul Tilyard for their invaluable assistance with this project.

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Correspondence to Dorothy A. Steane.

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Steane, D.A., Conod, N., Jones, R.C. et al. A comparative analysis of population structure of a forest tree, Eucalyptus globulus (Myrtaceae), using microsatellite markers and quantitative traits. Tree Genetics & Genomes 2, 30–38 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-005-0028-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-005-0028-7

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