Sofia J.
van Moorsel


Intraspecific variation in Fagus sylvatica

Intraspecific variation in Fagus sylvatica

With Prof. Meredith Schuman at the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich, we are working on measuring the intraspecific trait and genetic variation in European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and how it responds to both the biotic and abiotic environment. To do so, we're using a blend of ecological genomics and remote sensing tools.

In a common garden experiment, we aim to disentangle the within-species trait variation explained by the genotype vs. the environment. Last summer, we grew roughly 200 beech seedlings from different regions in Europe and measured a suite of phenotypic traits, some as simple as plant height, others more complex, such as leaf spectroscopy and canopy reflectance. We also have data on the whole genome sequence of most of these seedlings to link our phenotypic data to the underlying genetic variation.

In spring/summer 2023, MSc students Jolanda Klaver and Dave Kurath conducted a drought experiment with the 2-year old beech seedlings to see how the genetic variation among the plants is reflected in their drought responses. Dave's MSc thesis can be found here and we also presented our findings as a poster at the EARSEL imaging spectroscopy workshop in Valencia.

The common garden experiment will continue for a few more years and we will be tracking the seedling's growth a bit longer. Curious to see what they will tell us over these next few years!

A short summary of the experiment (in German) can be found here.