Tree Genetics & Genomes

, 15:1 | Cite as

Heritability and genetic architecture of reproduction-related traits in a temperate oak species

  • Thomas CaignardEmail author
  • Sylvain Delzon
  • Catherine Bodénès
  • Benjamin Dencausse
  • Antoine Kremer
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Complex Traits


Reproduction, one of the main components of plant fitness, is highly variable in response to environmental cues, but little is known about the genetic determinism underlying reproduction-related traits in forest tree species. There is therefore an urgent need to characterize the genetic architecture of those traits if we are to predict the evolutionary trajectories of forest populations facing rapidly changing environment and mitigate their impacts. Using a full-sib family of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), we investigated the within population variability of seed production and mean seed mass during four consecutive years. Reproductive traits were highly variable between trees and between years. The high narrow sense heritability and evolvability estimated underline the important genetic effect on the variability in seed production and mean seed mass. Despite a large variability over years, reproductive traits show significant genetic correlation between years. Furthermore, for the first time in forest tree species, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with seed production and mean mass of a seed have been identified. While it is commonly assumed and observed that fitness traits have low narrow sense heritabilities, our findings show that reproduction-related traits may undergo evolutionary changes under selective pressure and may be determinant for tree adaptation.


Tree reproduction Seed production Fitness Heritability QTLs Quercus robur 



We thank the experimental units of Bourran (UE 0393 INRA, Domaine de la Tour de Rance 47320 Bourran, France) and Toulenne (UE 0393 INRA, Domaine des Jarres 33210 Toulenne, France) for technical support. We thank Jérôme Bartholomé for his assistance in the QTL analysis.

Authors’ contributions

T.C. and A.K. conceived the idea for this work; T.C. and B.D. assembled the dataset; T.C and C.B. analyzed the data; T.C. and A.K. wrote the manuscript; and C.B. and S.D. revised the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was supported by the European Research Council through the Advanced Grant Project TREEPEACE (#FP7-339728). TC received a PhD grant from TREEPEACE and the Initiative of Excellence program (IdEX-03-02) of Bordeaux University. BIOGECO is supported by a grant overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d’Avenir” through the Cluster of Excellence COTE (ANR-10-LABEX45).

Supplementary material

11295_2018_1309_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 4261 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMR BIOGECO 1202-INRAUniversity of BordeauxPessacFrance

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