DNA profile of British ash trees could make them at less risk from 'dieback,' ecologist claims

Nov 07, 2012
DNA profile of British ash trees could make them at less risk from 'dieback,' ecologist claims

(Phys.org)—An ecologist who has examined research into the genetic lineage of populations of native British ash trees claims that significant differences in their DNA could make the majority less at risk from ash dieback than being currently predicted.

Dr Graham Rowe, a molecular ecologist at the University of Derby, has revisited research into the of across Europe, and claims that the genetic make-up of the majority of British ash trees is significantly different to those currently being decimated by fungal disease 'dieback' (Chalara fraxinea) across Denmark and northern Europe.

Dr Graham Rowe said: "Patterns of in many species of across Europe were strongly influenced by the last Ice Age, around 20,000 years ago.

"As the Scandinavian ice sheet melted, flora and fauna re-colonised northern Europe, including Great Britain, by a number of different routes from glacial refuges in south west and south east Europe, and beyond."

"When looking at the genetic make-up of ash trees across Europe in papers published in 2004 and 2006, the majority of native British ash trees have a similar to those found in Spain and Portugal, indicating a south west re-colonisation route.

"In contrast, the DNA of ash populations from northern central Europe, including those from Denmark, indicate a re-colonisation from a glacial refuge somewhere in south east Europe."

The different genetic make-up of the majority of British trees to those currently being decimated across Northern Europe, he claims, could alter the affect the disease has on British trees.

"Current evidence suggests that the majority of native British trees are of a different genetic origin which may be less susceptible to the disease.

"From the research I revisited, it looks like ash populations along the eastern of England - populations currently being affected by dieback in the UK - might be of the same genetic stock as those from Denmark. This should come as no great surprise, as many species re-colonised the British Isles by two different routes, including the natterjack toad."

As these ash trees seem to share their genetic lineage with the trees of Northern Europe it may be why they are being similarly affected by the disease.

"We cannot know for sure what affect ash dieback may have on native British ash trees going forward, but the south-western European lineage of the majority of the British trees may make them less susceptible to this terrible disease."

Explore further: 22 elephants poached in Mozambique in two weeks

More information: Heuertz, Myriam et al. (2004) Chloroplast DNA variation and postglacial re-colonisation of common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Europe, Molecular Ecology, Volume 13, 3437 - 3452.
Heuertz, Myriam et al. (2004) Nuclear microsatellites reveals contrasting patterns of genetic structure between western and southeastern European populations of the common ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Evolution, Volume 58, 976 - 988.
Heuertz, Myriam et al. (2006) Chloroplast DNA phylogeography of European ashes, Fraxinus sp. (Oleaceae): roles of hybridization and life history traits, published in Molecular Ecology, Volume 15, 2131-2140.
Graham Rowe co-authored the first textbook on Molecular Ecology: Beebee, T.J.C. and Rowe, G. (2008) Introduction to Molecular Ecology. Oxford University Press. Second edition.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Britain scrambles to contain deadly ash tree disease

Nov 02, 2012

The British government convened its emergency crisis committee on Friday to discuss how to contain a fungal disease threatening ash trees that has already wiped out swathes of woodland in Denmark.

Scientists Cryopreserve Pest-Imperiled Ash Trees

Oct 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Using cryopreservation methods, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have devised a procedure for storing frozen budwood from ash trees (Fraxinus) and thawing the delicate buds for ...

Putting the ash clouds into perspective

Aug 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research from the University of Leeds suggests that we shouldn’t expect another major ash cloud event from an Icelandic volcano for another 50 years.

Scots Pine shows its continental roots

Sep 09, 2010

By studying similarities in the genes of Scots Pine trees, scientists have shown that the iconic pine forests of Highland Scotland still carry the traces of the ancestors that colonised Britain after the end ...

Recommended for you

22 elephants poached in Mozambique in two weeks

2 hours ago

Poachers slaughtered 22 elephants in Mozambique in the first two weeks of September, environmentalists said Monday, warning that killing for ivory by organised syndicates was being carried out on an "industrialised" ...

Pakistan releases smuggled turtles into the wild

7 hours ago

Pakistani officials and environmentalists on Monday released some 200 rare turtles into the River Indus after the reptiles were retrieved from a southwestern Chinese town where they were seized by customs ...

Big science from small insects

12 hours ago

Anniversaries are often a time to look back. But after taking stock of the past, it can be just as important to look to the future.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

User comments : 0