iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Molecular evidence of bidirectional introgression between Quercus suber and Quercus ilex

Unai López De Heredia, Héctor Sánchez, Alvaro Soto   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 2, Pages 338-343 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2570-011
Published: Apr 18, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

Collection/Special Issue: INCOTW - Sassari, Italy (2017)
International Congress on Cork Oak Trees and Woodlands
Guest Editors: Piermaria Corona, Sandro Dettori

Cork oak and holm oak share a large part of their natural range, and are known to hybridize in mixed stands. This hybridization is supposed to have played a relevant role in the past history of cork oak. Previous research has reported that F1 hybrids are produced with holm oak acting as pollen recipient, therefore carrying holm oak chloroplast. Additionally, F1 hybrids have been assumed to be pollinated mostly by cork oak. Continued backcrossing of F1 hybrids with cork oak (supported by flowering phenology) could have created the organellar introgression patterns observed nowadays in Eastern Spain and Southern France cork oak populations. On the contrary, no organellar introgression has been detected in holm oak and multiple generation backcross individuals to holm oak have not been reported so far. In this work, we examined whether hybrids preferentially backcross with cork oak or with holm oak. To reach this goal, we genotyped by using eight microsatellite loci the progeny of four cork and four holm oak trees (33 and 44 half-siblings, respectively), and of four hybrids (468 half-siblings) collected over three years from a natural mixed population. We used the STRUCTURE software to estimate the proportion of the genotype of each seedling inherited from cork oak (qs) or from holm oak (qi). The ratio of the offspring q value over the mother q value helped determine the source of pollen that originated each acorn. Our results show for the first time that hybrid trees can be effectively pollinated by both parental species. Additionally, each hybrid tree was predominantly pollinated by the most abundant oak species in its vicinity. These results confirm the occurrence of bidirectional introgression, previously suggested for adult hybrid trees in the field, and point out the pattern of introgression in the seedlings could be most affected by the abundance of the parental species.


Cork Oak, Holm Oak, Hybridization, Introgression, Microsatellites

Authors’ address

Unai López De Heredia
Héctor Sánchez
Alvaro Soto
GI Genética, Fisiología e Historia Forestal, Dpto. Sistemas y Recursos Naturales, ETSI Montes, Forestal y del Medio Natural, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid (Spain)

Corresponding author

Alvaro Soto


López De Heredia U, Sánchez H, Soto A (2018). Molecular evidence of bidirectional introgression between Quercus suber and Quercus ilex. iForest 11: 338-343. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2570-011

Academic Editor

Piermaria Corona

Paper history

Received: Jul 28, 2017
Accepted: Feb 20, 2018

First online: Apr 18, 2018
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2018
Publication Time: 1.90 months

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