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Title: Dissecting the Polygenic Basis of Cold Adaptation Using Genome-Wide Association of Traits and Environmental Data in Douglas-fir
Understanding the genomic and environmental basis of cold adaptation is key to understand how plants survive and adapt to different environmental conditions across their natural range. Univariate and multivariate genome-wide association (GWAS) and genotype-environment association (GEA) analyses were used to test associations among genome-wide SNPs obtained from whole-genome resequencing, measures of growth, phenology, emergence, cold hardiness, and range-wide environmental variation in coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Results suggest a complex genomic architecture of cold adaptation, in which traits are either highly polygenic or controlled by both large and small effect genes. Newly discovered associations for cold adaptation in Douglas-fir included 130 genes involved in many important biological functions such as primary and secondary metabolism, growth and reproductive development, transcription regulation, stress and signaling, and DNA processes. These genes were related to growth, phenology and cold hardiness and strongly depend on variation in environmental variables such degree days below 0c, precipitation, elevation and distance from the coast. This study is a step forward in our understanding of the complex interconnection between environment and genomics and their role in cold-associated trait variation in boreal tree species, providing a baseline for the species’ predictions under climate change.
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