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The effect of climate on wood density: What provenance trials tell us?

Nabais, Cristina, Hansen, Jon Kehlet, David-Schwartz, Rakefet, Klisz, Marcin, López, Rosana, Rozenberg, Philippe
Forest ecology and management 2018 v.408 pp. 148-156
Angiospermae, Gymnospermae, breeding programs, climate change, climatic factors, drought, drought tolerance, genetic variation, plasticity, provenance, trees, wood density
Wood density, considered a heritable trait, is often associated with drought tolerance and can be a useful trait for tree breeders to select drought-tolerant provenances. Provenance trials are a useful tool to disentangle genetic variation from plasticity of adaptive traits among populations within the same species. If wood density is a strongly heritable trait selected by climatic conditions, we hypothesize that its variation in provenance trials should be shaped by the provenance climatic variables. To test our hypothesis we collected wood density data of provenance trials from the literature. We used thirty publications published between 1966 and 2015 including 25 species (13 angiosperms and 12 gymnosperms).At the intraspecific level, eight species showed significant positive correlations between wood density and drought conditions of the provenance, two species showed the opposite trend and the remaining 15 species showed no correlation with the climatic conditions of the provenances. For the 10 species with wood density strongly linked to the climatic conditions of the provenance, such relationship reflects a strong genetic determinism and a theoretical fitness optimum. For the other 15 species, wood density does not seem to be the main selection target of drought. This information is critical in the frame of breeding programs for selecting provenances more adaptable to different climate change scenarios.