Objectives and Aims - Genocedar

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Objectives and Aims

The Project
Project Objectives and Aim

Wild forest tree populations consist of long-lived organisms which must survive temporally varying environmental conditions that are presently also affected by accelerated global climate change. Hence, the presence and maintenance of genetic variation at genes controlling adaptive traits is important for the long-term persistence and stability of forest tree populations in order to survive heterogeneous conditions.

The scientific objective of this project is the investigation of adaptation and adaptability of Cedrus brevifolia (Cyprus cedar) through the correlation of various datasets: genes diversity, morphological / anatomic traits and ecological indexes (soil conditions and climatic measurements). Hence, outcomes from this project aim to shed light on the adaptation process of Cyprus cedar in the course of many generations due to the interaction of several evolutionary processes (mostly selection owing to glaciations and demographic factors). In addition, through exhaustive sampling which will cover the whole natural habitat of Cyprus cedar, the patterns of gene and morphological adaptation at small-scale will be illustrated at the entire distribution of the sole population of Cyprus cedar.

The data pool which will be derived from this project will provide further understanding on the demographic history of C. brevifolia and will contribute towards deriving conclusions on how the species will genetically react to the anticipated climate changes. These data will also add new information for developing a genetic resources conservation strategy for the species, as well as a sustainable management for the species population in both in situ and ex situ levels.

Finally, the project aims to indirectly assess the gene genealogies and effect of mutations and evolution on the Cyprus cedar genome, and to examine the hypothesis whether selection and drift do not act on the same genes, and whether a strong selection process can remain unnoticed at neutral markers if bottlenecks are not too strong, using previous data from neutral markers.

The project
's objectives and aims will be carried out by investigating the sequence of numerous adaptive genes in the C. brevifolia genome. Nowadays, comparative sequencing is the ultimate method to detect variation within any DNA fragment, in non-model organisms like trees, where most of the genomes are not yet sequenced. Thus, the most promising markers for the study of adaptation today are single nucleotide poylmorphisms (SNPs - namely the substitution of only one nucleobase). Hence, assessment of SNPs in adaptive genes is  valuable when studying adaptation of plants to changing environmental conditions.

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