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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Local adaptation in European populations of Arabidopsis lyrata (Brassicaceae)

Leinonen Päivi H, Sandring Saskia, Quilot Bénédicte, Clauss Maria J, Mitchell-Olds Thomas, Ågren Jon, Savolainen Outi


We studied local adaptation to contrasting environments using an organism that is emerging as a model for evolutionary plant biology—the outcrossing, perennial herb Arabidopsis lyrata subsp. petraea (Brassicaceae). With reciprocal transplant experiments, we found variation in cumulative fitness, indicating adaptive differentiation among populations. Nonlocal populations did not have significantly higher fitness than the local population. Experimental sites were located in Norway (alpine), Sweden (coastal), and Germany (continental). At all sites after one year, the local population had higher cumulative fitness, as quantified by survival combined with rosette area, than at least one of the nonlocal populations. At the Norwegian site, measurements were done for two additional years, and fitness differences persisted. The fitness components that contributed most to differences in cumulative fitness varied among sites. Relatively small rosette area combined with a large number of inflorescences produced by German plants may reflect differentiation in life history. The results of the current study demonstrate adaptive population differentiation in A. lyrata along a climatic gradient in Europe. The studied populations harbor considerable variation in several characters contributing to adaptive population differentiation. The wealth of genetic information available makes A. lyrata a highly attractive system also for examining the functional and genetic basis of local adaptation in plants


Arabidopsis lyrata; Brassicaceae; local adaptation; plant establishment; population differentiation; reciprocal transplant experiment

Published in

American Journal of Botany
2009, Volume: 96, number: 6, pages: 1129-1137

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