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Phenotypic plasticity of growth trajectory and ontogenic allometry in response to density for Eucalyptus hybrid clones and families

Bouvet J.M., Vigneron P., Saya A.R.. 2005. Annals of Botany, 96 : p. 811-821.

DOI: 10.1093/aob/mci231

- Background and Aims Response to density is a crucial aspect of the ecology of trees in forests and plantations. Few studies have investigated the genetics of plasticity in response to density for growth traits such as height and circumference through development. - Methods Two experiments were carried out in the field, the first with full-sib families of Eucalyptus urophylla X E. grandis hybrids, and the second with clones of E. tereticornis X E. grandis hybrids planted across a range of densities (625, 1111 and 2500 trees ha-1). Height, circumference and stem taper were measured through development in both experiments. Variance components were estimated and a repeated measure approach for plasticity and three different methods were used to compare the variance-covariance matrix across densities. - Key Results Genetic variance was significantly different from zero but the density X genotype interaction was significant only for clone experiments at the adult stage. Significant plasticity for three traits in both experiments was found. In the clone experiments, a significant clone X time X density interaction was found, suggesting that plasticity for growth and stem form is under genetic control. In both experiments, density did not affect environmental correlation, which remained high throughout tree development. The impact of density on genetic correlation was marked in the clone experiment, with a reduced value at lower density, but was not observed in the family trial. The differences between clones and family are mainly explained by the distribution of genetic variation within and among genotypes. - Conclusions The results suggest that plasticity for growth traits and form of tropical Eucalyptus species is under genetic control and that the environment changes genetic co-variation through ontogeny. The findings confirm that a tree population with a narrow genetic basis (represented by clones) is sensitive to a changing environment, whereas a population with a broader genetic basis (full-sib family here) exhibits a more stable reaction.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus; hybride; croissance; espacement

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