Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scots Pine shows its continental roots

Date:
September 16, 2010
Source:
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Summary:
By studying similarities in the genes of Scots Pine trees, scientists have shown that the iconic pine forests of Highland Scotland still carry the traces of the ancestors that colonized Britain after the end of the last ice age, harboring genetic variation that could help regenerate future populations, according to new research.

This is a Scots Pine at Sheildaig in Scotland.
Credit: Stephen Cavers/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

By studying similarities in the genes of Scots Pine trees, scientists have shown that the iconic pine forests of Highland Scotland still carry the traces of the ancestors that colonised Britain after the end of the last Ice Age, harbouring genetic variation that could help regenerate future populations, according to new results in the journal Heredity.

Related Articles


The research was carried out by an international team from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Polish Academy of Sciences, the University of Edinburgh and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute.

Today's Scots Pine forests are remnants of the ancient, much larger Caledonian forest that covered the northern parts of Britain from the end of the last Ice Age until many trees were lost due to over-exploitation and agriculture more than 400 years ago.

It has previously been thought that as the trees were lost so was much of the genetic diversity contained within them. Without sufficient genetic diversity the remaining pine tree populations may not be able to adapt and survive under new conditions, for example as the climate changes.

By studying the remnant Scottish populations the researchers were able to see how much genetic variation remains and also how these trees compare to the intact Scots Pine forests of continental Europe and Asia.

The good news is that Scottish populations turn out to be at least as genetically diverse as their continental cousins. This suggests that despite the huge losses they have suffered, the last fragments of the Caledonian Pine forest in Scotland still harbour genetic variation that could help regenerate future populations.

"Despite its Scottish image, the Scots Pine owes much to its European roots." said paper co-author Dr Stephen Cavers, an ecologist based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology's Edinburgh site, "By looking at the trees' DNA we have learnt much about how the forests grew up after the Ice Age. Given the severe fragmentation of the current population, our results are key to understanding how these forests will cope with future change."

Where the genetic diversity comes from is another question. Given the great age that these trees can reach -- as much as 700 years in some cases -- the forests present today may be no more than a few tens of generations removed from the first migrants to reach these shores after the ice retreated. DNA evidence suggests that these early arrivals came in two waves: one, which reached the far north-western Highlands very soon after the ice retreated, possibly via Ireland, and another, which settled in the eastern Highlands, from central Europe.

Dr Cavers added, "We plan to continue the study, to try and discover if there are particular genes which let the Highland trees tolerate the harsh Scottish climate."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wachowiak W, Salmela M, Iason G, Ennos R, Cavers S. High genetic diversity at the extreme range edge: nucleotide variation at candidate gene loci in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Scotland. Heredity, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2010.118

Cite This Page:

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. "Scots Pine shows its continental roots." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908191136.htm>.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. (2010, September 16). Scots Pine shows its continental roots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908191136.htm
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. "Scots Pine shows its continental roots." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100908191136.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) Surfers in Russia's biggest port city on the Pacific Ocean, Vladivostok, were enjoying the sport on Saturday despite below freezing temperatures and icy cold waters. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins