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Keywords:

  • chloroplast;
  • conformity test;
  • differentiation;
  • diversity;
  • traceability

Abstract

New methods for better identification of timber geographical origin would constitute an important technical element in the forest industry, for phytosanitary certification procedures or in the chain of custody developed for the certification of timber from sustainably managed forests. In the case of the European white oaks, a detailed reference map of chloroplast (cp) DNA variation across the range exists, and we propose here to use the strong geographical structure, characterized by a differentiation of western vs. eastern populations, for the purpose of oak wood traceability. We first developed cpDNA markers permitting the characterization of haplotype on degraded DNA obtained from wood samples. The techniques were subsequently validated by confirming the full correspondence between genotypes obtained from living tissues (buds) and from wood collected from the same individual oak. Finally, a statistical procedure was used to test if the haplotype composition of a lot of wood samples is consistent with its presumed geographical origin. Clearly, the technique cannot permit the unambiguous identification of wood products of unknown origin but can be used to check the conformity of genetic composition of wood samples with the region of alleged origin. This could lead to major applications not only in the forest industry but also in archaeology or in palaeobotany.