Correlated genetic effects on reproduction define a domestication syndrome in a forest tree

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Santos del Blanco L, Alía R, González Martínez SC, Sampedro L, Lario F, Climent J (2015) - Correlated genetic effects on reproduction define a domestication syndrome in a forest tree - Evolutionary Applications

Compared to natural selection, domestication implies a dramatic change in traits linked to fitness. A number of traits conferring fitness in the wild might be detrimental under domestication, and domesticated species typically differ from their ancestors in a set of traits known as the domestication syndrome. Specifically, trade-offs between growth and reproduction are well established across the tree of life. According to allocation theory, selection for growth rate is expected to indirectly alter life-history reproductive traits, diverting resources from reproduction to growth. Here we tested this hypothesis by examining the genetic change and correlated responses of reproductive traits as a result of selection for timber yield in the tree Pinus pinaster. Phenotypic selection was carried out in a natural population, and progenies from selected trees were compared with those of control trees in a common garden experiment. According to expectations, we detected a genetic change in important life history traits due to selection. Specifically, threshold sizes for reproduction were much higher and reproductive investment relative to size significantly lower in the selected progenies just after a single artificial selection event. Our study help to define the domestication syndrome in exploited forest trees and shows that changes affecting developmental pathways are relevant in domestication processes of long-lived plants.

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