Impact of gene flow and introgression on the range wide genetic structure of Quercus robur (L.) in Europe
As for most other temperate broadleaved tree species, large-scale genetic inventories of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) have focused on the plastidial genome, which showed the impact of post-glacial recolonization and manmade seed transfer. However, how have pollen mediated gene flow and introgression impacted the large-scale genetic structure? To answer these questions, we did a genetic inventory on 1970 pedunculate oak trees from 197 locations in 13 European countries. All samples were screened with a targeted sequencing approach on a set of 381 polymorphic loci (356 nuclear SNPs, 3 nuclear InDels, 17 chloroplast SNPs, and 5 mitochondrial SNPs). In a former analysis with additional 1763 putative Quercus petraea trees screened for the same gene markers we obtained estimates on the species admixture of all pedunculate oak trees. We identified 13 plastidial haplotypes, which showed a strong spatial pattern with a highly significant autocorrelation up to a range of 1250 km. Significant spatial genetic structure up to 1250 km was also observed at the nuclear loci. However, the differentiation at the nuclear gene markers was much lower compared to the organelle gene markers. The matrix of genetic distances among locations was partially correlated between nuclear and organelle genomes. Bayesian clustering analysis revealed the best fit to the data for a sub-division into two gene pools. One gene pool is dominating the west and the other is the most abundant in the east. The western gene pool was significantly influenced by introgression from Quercus petraea in the past. In Germany, we identified a contact zone of pedunculate oaks with different introgression intensity, likely resulting from different historical levels of introgression in glacial refugia or during postglacial recolonization. The main directions of postglacial recolonization were south to north and south to northwest inWest and Central Europe, and for the eastern haplotypes also east to west in Central Europe. By contrast, the pollen mediated gene flow and introgression from Q. petraea modified the large-scale structure at the nuclear gene markers with significant west–east direction.