Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366126

Research Project: Systematics, Nomenclature, and Genetic Diversity of Priority Genera of Woody Landscape Plants

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Title: Population genetics of Quercus macrocarpa

item GARNER, MIRA - Morton Arboretum
item PHAM, KASEY - Michigan State University
item Whittemore, Alan
item CAVENDER-BARES, JEANNINE - University Of Minnesota
item GAGGER, PAUL - University Of Maryland Center For Environmental Science
item MANOS, PAUL - Duke University
item PEARSE, IAN - Us Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center
item HIPP, ANDREW - Morton Arboretum

Submitted to: International Oaks
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/3/2019
Publication Date: 7/16/2019
Citation: Garner, M., Pham, K., Whittemore, A.T., Cavender-Bares, J., Gagger, P.F., Manos, P.S., Pearse, I.S., Hipp, A.L. 2019. Population genetics of Quercus macrocarpa. International Oaks. 30:131-138.

Interpretive Summary: Plant breeding requires finding alleles that will be useful to growers and users of the plants. When related plant species hybridize with one another, this may affect the distribution of functional genes, and understanding these effects will help find beneficial genes efficiently. A team of scientists investigated the distribution of 372 genes in bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) and five related oak species in order to understand how genes are distributed across the ranges of the species. They discovered that these species occasionally hybridize with one another, but remain genetically distinct. They also found that bur oak consists of two population systems - one southern and one northern - that overlap where they meet in the central United States. These results provide the genetic background for investigating the distribution of specific genes. This data will be used to infer the neutral genetic background against which the functional alleles disperse.

Technical Abstract: The widespread eastern North American oak, Quercus macrocarpa, is an ideal species for studying hybridization. Like most oaks, it exhibits strong morphological and ecological species coherence, but it hybridizes readily with at least eight currently or historically sympatric oak species thoughout its range from Texas north to Manitoba, and from Michigan west across the Great Plains. Its geographic and ecological variation makes it a good candidate to address the question of how hybridization and gene flow might affect adaptation. Our study investigates (1.) population genetic structure of Q. macrocarpa and (2.) genetic coherence of the species throughout its range as it comes into contact with five concurring White Oak species whose ranges all overlap a subset of the range of Q. macrocarpa.