Genetic diversity and genotypic stability in Prunus avium L. at the northern parts of species distribution range

  • Albin LoboEmail author
  • Erik Dahl Kjær
  • Ditte Christina Olrik
  • Lars-Göran Stener
  • Jon Kehlet Hansen
Research Paper


Key message

Large genetic variation was found in Prunus avium L. populations from the northern parts of the species distribution range. The ranking of genotypes in terms of growth was stable when tested at three trial sites within the northern parts of the species distribution range.


Peripheral populations especially those in the leading edge are isolated from rest of the areas in the species distribution range. This can make them less genetically diverse yet genetically distinct from the rest of the populations in the species distribution range. Evaluation of their genetic diversity is thus crucial in understanding the local adaptation potential of a species.


We investigated the genetic diversity and genotype by environment interaction at the northern parts of the distribution range of P. avium.


Quantitative genetic variation of growth, stem form, and spring phenology were assessed in progenies from 93 plus trees of P. avium selected from 43 locations at the north of the species distribution range in Sweden and tested at two Swedish sites and one Danish site.


We find large quantitative genetic variation in growth and phenology at the northern part of the distribution range of P. avium. Only a limited genotype by environment interaction was observed with no clear indication of local adaptation at the northern parts of the species distribution.


We conclude that P. avium harbors a high level of genetic diversity at the north of its distribution range. Present patterns therefore reflect more likely the recent introduction of the species and dispersal dynamics rather than a long-term loss of diversity along South-North ecological clines during the Holocene. With no indications of genetic depletion in growth or phenology, the gene pool in the breeding program is considered suitable for the future propagation of the species in the tested area.


Marginal populations Forest genetics Climate change Local adaptation Wild cherry 



The authors would like to thanks Morten Alban Knudsen and Johan Malm for helping in field data collection from the study sites.

Author contribution

Albin Lobo is responsible for data collection in Danish field trial, data analysis, and writing of manuscript.

Erik Dahl Kjær is the responsible for supervising the project and writing of manuscript.

Ditte Christina Olrik is responsible for the field trial in Denmark, data collection, and writing of the manuscript.

Lars-Göran Stener is responsible for the field trials in Sweden, data collection, and writing of manuscript.

Jon Kehlet Hansen is responsible for supervising the study, data analysis, and writing the manuscript.


The Villum Foundation provided financial support for the data collection and the analysis as part of the Trees for Future Forests Project (VKR-023063).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

13595_2018_740_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN)University of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.NaturstyrelsenMiljø- og FødevareministerietGræstedDenmark
  3. 3.SkogforskSvalövSweden

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