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Adaptability
Importance of regulation mechanisms for the climatic adaptation of tree species (an example of Picea abies)

The adaptation of Norway spruce to extreme climatic conditions is generally believed to develop in the course of many generations, due to the interaction of several evolutionary processes (mostly by selection). However, recent results with Norway spruce have indicated that climatic adaptation can occur in only one generation in response to the climatic (temperature/photoperiode) conditions during sexual reproduction.

Objectives
The purpose of this project is to establish the mechanisms underlying this short-term adaptation and to use the respective results for practical forestry purposes. This will be achieved by:
1) planning several integrated investigations using the same progenies from controlled crosses in different environments
2) analysing possible rapid selection processes during reproduction by aIlozymes and DNA markers in female gametophytes and embryos of the different progenies
3) analysing possible gene regulations by means of new innovative molecular genetic methods, aiming at the detection of the mechanisms of potential differential gene expression in different progenies.
Both main investigations will be supplemented by phenological and physiological studies on the same Norway spruce progenies.

Results
The environment in which the seeds were produced and matured is a significant factor for early height growth in a frost-free environment. The analyses also indicate that families differ significantly in growth just as they do in phenology.
It was proven that phenotypic behavior, particularly climatic adaptation, does not only reflect the interaction of past evolutionary processes; it is also determined by short-term effects during sexual reproduction. Even progeny of one and the same pair of artificially mated trees can behave as genetically different progenies.
Offspring from spruce plantations identified by mitochondrial DNA markers to be of central European origin were more similar to local Norwegian than to their parental provenances.
The parameters of the environmental conditions during seed production could influence the inheritance of chromosomal regions inducing segregation distortion affecting the frequency of alleles involved in the control of early steps of the reproductive process.
The general results of the project give considerable practical relevance, including conventional forestry practice. Embryogenesis and seed maturation, not only in a warmer climate but also during warmer seed years leads to retarded bud burst, which is an advantage in areas prone to spring frost. Taking account of this point could be of crucial importance for the success of plantations. In the field, the long-term heat sums during the reproduction period vary greatly from year to year. Hence, it has to be considered, whether much of the abundant seed produced under extremely worm weather conditions should really be collected for deployment.

Classified in FORESTRY

Scientist responsible for the project

Prof. Dr ELLEN FISCHER-KALLMANN
Buesgenweg 3
37077 Goettingen
Germany - DE

Phone: +49 551 393792
Fax: +49 551 393797
E-mail: eubuero@uni-goettingen.de

References

Project ID QLRT-1999-30349
Organisation Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen
Area 5.3.1
Start date 01 December 2000
Duration (months) 42
Total cost 1 562 777 €
Total EC contribution   1 279 208 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project   http://www.adaptability.de/index1.htm

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