Evolutionary potential and adaptation of Banksia attenuata (Proteaceae) to climate and fire regime in southwestern Australia, a global biodiversity hotspot
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Substantial climate changes are evident across Australia, with declining rainfall and rising temperature in conjunction with frequent fires. Considerable species loss and range contractions have been predicted; however, our understanding of how genetic variation may promote adaptation in response to climate change remains uncertain. Here we characterized candidate genes associated with rainfall gradients, temperatures, and fire intervals through environmental association analysis. We found that overall population adaptive genetic variation was significantly affected by shortened fire intervals, whereas declining rainfall and rising temperature did not have a detectable influence. Candidate SNPs associated with rainfall and high temperature were diverse, whereas SNPs associated with specific fire intervals were mainly fixed in one allele. Gene annotation further revealed four genes with functions in stress tolerance, the regulation of stomatal opening and closure, energy use, and morphogenesis with adaptation to climate and fire intervals. B. attenuata may tolerate further changes in rainfall and temperature through evolutionary adaptations based on their adaptive genetic variation. However, the capacity to survive future climate change may be compromised by changes in the fire regime.
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