Recent landscape genomics studies in forest trees—what can we believe?
Landscape genomics is potentially a powerful research field for discovery of genes underlying complex patterns of adaptation in forest ecosystems. The general approach is to search for associations between genetic variation in tree populations and environmental variation in the habitats these trees occupy. For example, environmental data from GIS databases can be associated with single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes for large samples of trees sampled from within environmentally heterogeneous landscapes. In this opinion paper, we seek to assess the commonality of recent landscape genomics studies in forest trees. When we compare results across different species, we find very few examples of the same genes being detected that associate to similar environmental variables. We also find the absence of commonality when we compare three studies in Norway spruce with similar experimental design. We thus argue that landscape genomics research in forest trees is in its infancy and currently reported that results should be viewed with caution. Further, improvements in study design and analyses of replicated studies will be needed before this very promising approach can be brought to application for managing forests under changing climate.
KeywordsAdaptation Genotype to environment Genomics Picea abies
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