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Doctoral thesis, 2011

Genetic dissection of quantitative traits in Scots pine

Abrahamsson, Sara


The phenotypic expressions of Scots pine, have been extensively studied over the years, but the gene regulation behind the traits has only just begun to be elucidated. The overall aim of this thesis was to start dissecting the genetics behind a number of adaptive traits in Scots pine and examine how they are influenced by relatedness using different molecular tools. In a full-sib family of Scots pine the genetic variation in autumn frost hardiness and height growth was revelead by measuring open-pollinated offspring. A significant genetic variation for both traits was found, a prerequisite to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL). A conceptual statistical model in the Bayesian framework for identifying QTLs in dynamic traits i.e. traits that vary over time, was developed and applied in a QTL study based on a full-sib family of 250 trees. A set of 160 AFLPs were utilized. QTLs for three latent traits were identified: one for the slope (growth) and two for the quadratic term (growth cessation). As a tool to identify candidate genes for the study of quantitative adaptive traits, gene regulation under continuous red (cR) and far-red (cFR) light was studied in hypocotyls from open-pollinated seeds from a natural population in northern Sweden using microarray technology. The gene expression patterns for the light response pathway in Scots pine under cFR show clear differences from those of angiosperms, wherein we observed up-regulation of cryptochrome1. This gene has, therefore, become a strong candidate gene that deserves further studies to elucidate the genetics behind Scots pine adaptation. Not knowing the genetic relationship and inbreeding of trees, and how it influences the phenotypic expression, can lead to over- or underestimation of additive genetic values resulting in biased heritability estimates. A natural population of Scots pine, earlier identified as being highly inbreed, was used to investigate the influence of inbreeding by the correlation between heterozygosity and propotion of sound seed (PSS), average seed weight and proportion of rare alleles (PRA). Heterozygosity fitness correlation (HFC) was found positive for PSS and negative for PRA most likely due to recessive deleterious alleles purged in homozygotes. The study provided evidence that, as predicted by theory, inbreeding enhances HFC in a species with high outbreeding rate and high number of lethal equivalents as Scots pine.


pinus sylvestris; quantitative trait loci; genes; inbreeding; cold tolerance; microsatellites; genetic markers

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2011, number: 2011:77
ISBN: 978-91-576-7621-4
Publisher: Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Abrahamsson, Sara
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

URI (permanent link to this page)