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Last update: May 2021

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Understanding adaptive mechanisms modulating plant assemblages

Understanding adaptive mechanisms modulating plant assemblages
Despite the importance of plant-plant interactions in plant community dynamics and crop yield, our understanding of the adaptive genetics underlying these interactions remains limited. To fill this gap, researchers from the LIPM (UMR CNRS / INRA) mapped genomic regions involved in the in situ interaction between a model plant and its neighbors.

By identifying significant associations between genetic polymorphisms and environmental variables, Genome–Environment Association (GEA) analyses is a powerful genome scan method to identify genes potentially involved in adaptive processes of a given species. In the last few years, the availability of public databases collecting estimates of abiotic factors (in particular climatic variables) and the development of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies led to a burst of GEA studies attempting to establish genomic map of local adaptation to abiotic variation. On the other hand, GEA studies performed on biotic factors are still scarce (not to say absent) in wild plant species.

The first Genome Environment Association study of biotic factors in wild plant species

Based on 145 natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana in southwestern France, the authors of this paper conducted a GEA analysis to finely map the adaptive genomic regions of A. thaliana associated with multiple descriptors of plant communities. They identified genomic regions associated with the abundance of neighboring species as well as genomic regions associated with species richness and species composition. This latter result supports the ability of A. thaliana to interact simultaneously with multiple plant neighbors. The main candidate genes have been previously described as being associated with either shade response or, more surprisingly, with plant immunity. The ongoing functional analysis of these candidates will undoubtedly help for a better understanding of the adaptive mechanisms modulating plant assemblages.

Finally, this article is a fine example of scientific production promoted by TULIP since Léa Frachon and Claudia Bartoli (both first co-authors of this article) were co-funded by the LabEx.

See also

Léa Frachon, Baptiste Mayjonade, Claudia Bartoli, Nina-Coralie Hautekèete & Fabrice Roux (2019). Adaptation to Plant Communities across the Genome of Arabidopsis thaliana.  Mol. Biol. Evol. doi:10.1093/molbev/msz078