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Oak genomics proves its worth

A year and a half after the publication of the complete sequence of the pedunculated oak genome by a national consortium led by INRAE and CEA (Genoscope), the first results based on this genomic resource are the subject of a series of articles published on 16 April 2020 in the journal New Phytologist.

Published on 17 April 2020

These new results clarify the evolutionary history of oaks, from the deep roots of their diversification to the more recent evolution of European white oaks, as well as the identification of key genes involved in adaptation to certain environments or in resistance to pathogens.

As keystones of forest ecosystems, trees - and oaks in particular - are also considered as model organisms for identifying the ecological and evolutionary processes responsible for the diversification and adaptation of plants to their environment.

Of the ten or so articles published in the journal New Physiologist, seven are co-authored by INRAE researchers, four of which are the result of cooperation between the BIOGECO research unit based in New Aquitaine and the unit's long-standing partners: the Morton Arboretum in Chicago and the Genoscope at the François Jacob Institute of Biology (CEA).

Through these various articles and thanks to the data generated by the Genoscope, the researchers have highlighted several points :

  • By synthesizing the knowledge accumulated on the ancient and recent evolution of oaks, they underline the evolutionary mechanisms that allowed oaks to colonize the Northern Hemisphere (Kremer and Hipp, 2020);
  • In light of recent discoveries obtained through genomics, they summarize in an opinion article the traditional symbolism associated with oaks such as longevity, cohesion and robustness (Leroy et al. 2020a); they propose an oak conservation strategy to promote the adaptation of these sessile and long-lived organisms to global changes (Cannon and Petit, 2020).

Finally, research articles illustrate the publication of these synthetic and prospective works on the oak genome sequence.

Find all these articles in the latest issue of the journal New Phytologist.

These results were the subject of a press release (in french).

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