Population substructure in continuous and fragmented stands of Populus trichocarpa

G. T. Slavov, S. Leonardi, W. T. Adams, S. H. Strauss, S. P. DiFazio

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25 Citations (SciVal)


Population substructure has important implications for both basic and applied genetic research. We used 10 microsatellite markers to characterize population substructure in two ecologically and demographically contrasting populations of the model tree Populus trichocarpa. The Marchel site was a continuous stand growing in a mesic habitat in western Oregon, whereas the Vinson site consisted of three disjunct and isolated stands in the high desert of eastern Oregon. A previous study revealed that pollen-mediated gene flow is extensive in both populations. Surprisingly, model-based clustering, principal components analysis and analyses of molecular variance provided overwhelming support for the existence of at least two intermingled sub-populations within the continuous Marchel population (F(ST)=0.026, P<0.001), which occupied an area with a radius of only about 250 m. Genets in these two sub-populations appeared to have different relative clone ages and phenologies, leading us to hypothesize that they correspond to different seedling cohorts, each established from seeds produced by relatively few mothers. As expected, substructure was stronger in the fragmented Vinson population (F(ST)=0.071, P=0.001), and this difference appeared to result from the more extensive family structure in this population. Using group-likelihood methods, we reconstructed multiple interconnected half-sib families in the Vinson population, with some genets having as many as eight putative siblings. Researchers involved in ongoing and future association studies in P. trichocarpa should account for the likely presence of subtle but practically significant substructure in populations throughout the range of this species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-357
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jun 2010


  • Populus trichocarpa
  • microsatellites
  • clonality
  • population substructure
  • relatedness
  • seedling establishment


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