Pleistocene climate changes, and not agricultural spread, accounts for range expansion and admixture in the dominant grassland species Lolium perenne L.

Jose Luis Blanco-Pastor, Stephanie Manel, Philippe Barre, Anna M. Roschanski, Evelin Willner, Klaus J. Dehmer, Mathew Hegarty, Hilde Muylle, Tom Ruttink, Isabel Roldan-Ruiz, Thomas Ledauphin, Abraham Escobar-Gutierrez, Jean-Paul Sampoux

    Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan tijdschriftA1: Web of Science-artikelpeer review


    Aim: Grasslands have been pivotal in the development of herbivore breeding since the Neolithic and still represent the most widespread agricultural land use across Europe. However, it remains unclear whether the current large-scale genetic variation of plant species found in natural grasslands of Europe is the result of human activities or natural processes. Location: Europe. Taxon: Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass). Methods: We reconstructed the phylogeographic history of L. perenne, a dominant grassland species, using 481 natural populations, including 11 populations of closely related taxa. We combined Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) and pool-Sequencing (pool-Seq) to obtain high-quality allele frequency calls of ~500 k SNP loci. We performed genetic structure analyses and demographic reconstructions based on the site frequency spectrum (SFS). We additionally used the same genotyping protocol to assess the genomic diversity of a set of 32 cultivars representative of the L. perenne cultivars widely used for forage purposes. Results: Expansion across Europe took place during the Würm glaciation (12–110 kya), a cooling period that decreased the dominance of trees in favour of grasses. Splits and admixtures in L. perenne fit historical climate changes in the Mediterranean basin. The development of agriculture in Europe (7–3.5 kya), that caused an increase in the abundance of grasslands, did not have an effect on the demographic patterns of L. perenne. We found that most modern cultivars are closely related to natural diversity from north-western Europe. Thus, modern cultivars do not represent the wide genetic variation found in natural populations. Main conclusions: Demographic events in L. perenne can be explained by the changing climatic conditions during the Pleistocene. Natural populations maintain a wide genomic variability at continental scale that has been minimally exploited by recent breeding activities. This variability constitutes valuable standing genetic variation for future adaptation of grasslands to climate change, safeguarding the agricultural services they provide.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    Pagina's (van-tot)1451-1465
    Aantal pagina’s15
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - jul-2019


    • Europe
    • Genotyping-by-Sequencing
    • Quaternary
    • cultivar
    • genetic diversity
    • grasslands
    • perennial ryegrass
    • phylogeography
    • pool-Seq
    • site frequency spectrum

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