Weronika Barbara Żukowska, Błażej Wójkiewicz, Andrzej Lewandowski
Trunks of multi-stem black poplars may have different genotypes – evidence from the Oder valley in Poland
Dendrobiology 2021, vol. 8: 1-7
The black poplar (Populus nigra L.) is an ecologically and economically important tree species, characteristic for floodplain forests in Europe. It is now considered to be endangered in many European countries due to the loss of its natural habitat caused by the development of river engineering and intensive land use management of riverside areas. Multi-stem specimens can be found occasionally in natural black poplar populations. The percentage of such individuals is low, although in some stands it may be over a dozen percent. The origin of multi-stem trees may be different. As a consequence, trunks being part of such a tree can have the same or different genotypes. The study aimed to find out whether all trunks of multi-stem black poplars are ramets of the same genet or if their genotypes are different, in which case they increase the gene pool of the population. We used 13 microsatellite nuclear markers to analyze the genotypes of 83 trunks belonging to 34 multi-stem black poplar trees from five natural populations from the Oder river valley in Poland. We also performed the sibship analysis of all trunks. The results showed that the trunks being part of the particular individual had distinct genotypes in five trees (14.7%). This indicates that they were formed as a result of the fusion of two genetically different individuals. The sibship analysis revealed that one multi-stem tree was represented by full-sibs. In the remaining four trees the fused trunks were not related. Nevertheless, we found three pairs of half-sibs between different trees that were distant from each other. The majority of the multi-stem trees we examined developed most probably due to the damage to the apical meristem of the main shoot of a single-stem tree. Nevertheless, some of them were indeed formed from two distinct individuals. Therefore, if a particular population consists of a small number of individuals, we recommend to study the genotypic homogeneity of each multi-stem tree.
Keywords: Populus nigra, genets, ramets, conservation programs, microsatellites