The main objectives of the project, which concerns Pinus of the halepensis-brutia section, maritime pine and Mediterranean Cedars, are :
* To characterize the genetic variability in drought and frost response. Results will allow varietal tests, optimal allocation of seed source to of afforestation site and the setting up of consensus core collections for conservation objectives. The variability will be analyzed with both adaptive traits and molecular markers (isozymes, RAPD, AFLP, SSR) in populations covering the range of ecological conditions encountered in the different species. A simultaneous analysis of variability based on quantitative traits and molecular markers will allow us to identify disequilibria between marker loci and phenotypic traits.
* To investigate the ecophysiological and molecular mechanisms involved in drought and frost response in order to define accessible criteria allowing early screening of tolerant genotypes in breeding and/or conservation programmes. We will focus on the definition of early ecophysiological tests for drought and frost tolerance (and/or avoidance), as well as the detection of proteins (boiling-stable drought-associated proteins) and DNA probes associated with drought response.
* To use this information in afforestation, breeding and genetic conservation programmes.
* A joint analysis of genetic diversity based on variation in relevant multigenic adaptive traits and polymorphism of neutral genes, combined with a better understanding of the basic mechanisms of frost and drought tolerance, will improve information and techniques on the selection and conservation of forest genetic resources.
* Use of powerful new molecular marking methods for evaluating genetic diversity, early selection and discriminant varietal tests.
* Pooling data on adaptive traits and molecular marker diversity to establish consensus core collections, to provide scientific base for genetic conservation programmes for Mediterranean conifers, and to organize dynamic ex situ gene conservation procedures.
The project is based on :
* Characterisation of genetic diversity involving phenotypic evaluation of adaptative traits (growth, phenology, drought and cold tolerance, disease and pest resistance) through early nursery or growth chamber tests, as well as provenance and progeny field tests with common data bank and integrated multi-site interpretation.
* Molecular characterization of genetic diversity combining :
- genetic diversity over the whole geographic range of the species
- evolution with time of transferred populations faced with new and/or harsher habitat (Pinus halepensis, pinaster)
The project will use and compare different methods of investigating neutral diversity (isozymes, RAPD, nuclear and chloroplastic SSR, AFLP). The evaluations will be crossed with the variation patterns observed with the adaptive traits to detect any linkage disequilibrium between quantitative traits and molecular markers.
* Study of ecophysiological and molecular response to drought
- This part of the project deals with the measurement of different ecophysiological parameters to define providing drought tolerance mechanisms (water potential, leaf conductance, transpiration rate, seed germination on calibrated PEG solutions).
- The study is extended to the molecular analysis of drought tolerance in pines, through the identification of drought-associated boiling-stable proteins and water stress inducible genes. Sequencing of relevant proteins and cloning the corresponding genes will generate DNA probes for early selection of drought resistant genotypes.
Ecophysiological and molecular responses to drought in the same plant material will be compared.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
50250 Bet Dagan