We used starch gel electrophoresis to investigate levels of genetic variation between trees of interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco var. glauca) that were phenotypically resistant versus susceptible to defoliation by the western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis Freeman). We also investigated the association between allozyme variation and tree growth traits. Overall, the phenotypically resistant trees had a lower allelic heterozygosity (p = 0.020) compared with susceptible trees. However, this difference between resistant and susceptible trees primarily occurred at the Buena Vista, Colorado, site rather than the Deckers, Colorado, and Jacob Lake, Arizona, sites. Among 25 loci we examined, the resistant trees also had a higher frequency of the most common alleles (p = 0.057) and a higher proportion of homozygous genotypes, especially at loci FEST-1 (p = 0.004), ACO-1 (p = 0.080), and 6PGD-1 (p = 0.084). The higher allelic heterozygosity in susceptible trees was mainly due to their higher proportion of uncommon and (or) rare alleles. Compared with susceptible trees, resistant trees had higher mean radial growth rates (p = 0.047) and less temporal variability in growth rate over 25 years (p = 0.037). Mean radial growth rate and average tree heterozygosity were not related at any site (p = 0.316). Relationships between temporal variability in growth rate and tree heterozygosity were inconsistent among sites. Our results suggest that phenotypic differences in resistance of interior Douglas-fir to western spruce budworm defoliation are partly caused by genetic differences among trees.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change