Identifying signatures of natural selection in cork oak (Quercus suber L.) genes through SNP analysis

Inês S. Modesto, Célia Miguel, Francisco Pina-Martins, Maria Glushkova, Manuela Veloso, Octávio S. Paulo, Dora Batista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Cork oak (Quercus suber L.) is an evergreen tree species endemic to the western Mediterranean Basin with a major economical, social and ecological relevance, associated with cork extraction and exploitation. In the last years, cork oak stands have been facing a significant decline, which may be aggravated by the climate changes that are predicted to occur within cork oak distribution range during this century. Under this scenario, the assessment of adaptive genetic variation is essential to understand how cork oak may cope with these threats and to delineate strategies for the management of its genetic resources. In this study, six candidate genes possibly significant for environmental adaptation were analysed in cork oak populations from its entire distribution range. Signatures of natural selection were investigated using population genetic statistics and environmental association tests under alternative scenarios of population genetic structure. Signals of balancing selection were detected in the putative non-expressor of pathogenesis-related gene 1 (NPR1), involved in plant defence response against pathogens, in auxin response factor 16 (ARF16), a gene implicated in root development, in RAN3, also involved in developmental processes, and in glutamine synthetase nodule isozyme (GS), involved in nitrogen fixation. Furthermore, for ARF16, a class I heat shock protein (sHSP) and GS, associations were found between SNP allele and haplotype frequencies and several spatial and climatic variables, suggesting that these genes may have a role on cork oak local adaptation. In this study, the first steps were taken into gathering information on cork oak adaptation to environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1660
Number of pages16
JournalTree Genetics & Genomes
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Adaptive genetic variation
  • Balancing selection
  • Candidate gene
  • Environmental association
  • Western Mediterranean


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