Ecological genomics of local adaptation in oaks

How are long-lived trees adapted to environmental variation across their distributions, and what are the implications for responses to 21st Century environmental change? Through an NSF-funded project in collaboration with Victoria Sork and Matteo Pellegrini at UCLA and Steve Salzberg at Johns Hopkins, we are developing genomic resources and sampling natural populations of valley oak (Quercus lobata) to understand the genetic basis of local adaptation to climate. Oaks are ecologically and economically important trees in the northern temperature zone. Valley oak is a California endemic species with some convenient features that lend itself to studying local adaptation, such as having stably occupied a heterogeneous landscape for a relatively long period (Gugger et al. 2013 Mol Ecol; Sork et al. 2016 PNAS). We have also established a large common garden from 95 seed sources throughout its distribution to facilitate experimental research (Delfino-Mix et al. 2015). With our recently completed first draft genome sequence based on Illumina sequence data (Sork et al. 2016 G3), we can now map whole-genome sequences from throughout the entire distribution to build on our earlier work that used genotyping-by-sequencing (Gugger et al. in prep.), transcriptome sequencing (Cokus et al. 2015 BMC Genom; Gugger et al. 2016 TGG), and candidate gene approaches (Sork et al. 2016 AJB). The results of this project will lead to an enhanced understanding of adaptation in long-lived species, as well as information that can be used to predict responses to future environmental change. Learn more about this project or download data at the Valley Oak Genome Project website.