Skip to main content

From common gardens to candidate genes: Exploring local adaptation to climate in red spruce

Cite this dataset

Capblancq, Thibaut; Lachmuth, Susanne; Fitzpatrick, Matthew; Keller, Stephen (2022). From common gardens to candidate genes: Exploring local adaptation to climate in red spruce [Dataset]. Dryad.


Local adaptation to climate is common in plant species and has been studied in a range of contexts, from improving crop yields to predicting population maladaptation to future conditions. The genomic era has brought new tools to study this process, which was historically explored through common garden experiments. 

In this study, we combine genomic methods and common gardens to investigate local adaptation in red spruce and identify environmental gradients and loci involved in climate adaptation. We first use climate transfer functions to estimate the impact of climate change on seedling performance in three common gardens. We then explore the use of multivariate gene-environment association (GEA) methods to identify genes underlying climate adaptation, with particular attention to the implications of conducting genome scans with and without correction for neutral population structure.

This integrative approach uncovered phenotypic evidence of local adaptation to climate and identified a set of putatively adaptive genes, some of which are involved in three main adaptive pathways found in other temperate and boreal coniferous species: drought tolerance, cold hardiness, and phenology. These putatively adaptive genes segregated into two “modules” associated with different environmental gradients.

This study nicely exemplifies the multivariate dimension of adaptation to climate in trees. 


National Science Foundation, Award: 1656099

National Science Foundation, Award: 1655344

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Award: HATCH 1006810