Microsatellite DNA analysis of genetic effects of harvesting in old-growth eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) in Ontario, Canada


Om P. Rajora. Tel: +1-780-492-4020; Fax: +1-780-492 4323; E-mail: Om.Rajora@ualberta.ca


Microsatellite DNA markers from 13 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci were used to compare genetic diversity between preharvest pristine and postharvest residual gene pools of two adjacent virgin, old-growth (≈ 250 years) stands of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) in Ontario. There was concurrence in genetic diversity changes in the postharvest gene pools of the two stands. The total and mean numbers of alleles detected in each stand were reduced by ≈ 26% after tree density reductions of ≈ 75%. Approximately 18 and 21% of the low-frequency (0.25 > P ≥ 0.01) alleles and 76 and 92% of the rare (P < 0.01) alleles were lost from residual stands A and B, respectively, after harvesting. Multilocus gametic diversity was reduced by 38 and 85% and genotype additivity by ≈ 50% in the residual stands after harvesting. Latent genetic potential of each stand was reduced by ≈ 40%. Although heterozygosity was reduced (1–5%) in the postharvest residual stands, the reductions were not substantial and not comparable to those using other genetic diversity measures. The reductions in genetic diversity measures were slightly higher than those theoretically expected in postbottleneck populations according to drift theory. In the absence of substantial gene migration that could ameliorate the genetic losses, the ability of the postharvest white pine gene pools to adapt to changing environmental and disease conditions may have been compromised. The microsatellite DNA results for genetic effects of harvesting in old-growth eastern white pine stands were similar to those that we reported earlier from allozyme analysis ( Buchert et al. 1997 ). The results indicate that silvicultural practices should ensure that the gene pools of remaining pristine old-growth stands are reconstituted in the regenerating stands.