Selection effects of air pollution on gene pools of Norway spruce, European silver fir and European beech

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The effects of industrial pollution on allelic and genotypic structures of Norway spruce, European silver fir and European beech were investigated by means of isozyme analysis. In a mixed Norway spruce-silver fir forest stand in an area heavily polluted by sulphur dioxide and heavy metals in the region of Spiš (eastern Slovakia), pairs of neighbouring damaged and apparently healthy trees were selected in two replicates (44 and 69 pairs in a heavily and moderately damaged stand, respectively). Pairwise sampling of trees with contrasting vitality was applied to reduce potential effects of site heterogeneity on the vitality of sampled trees. No significant differences in allelic and genotypic frequencies were found between sets of healthy and declining trees. There were differences in the single-locus heterozygosities, but these were not consistent between the replicates. However, the set of damaged trees exhibited higher levels of genetic multiplicity and diversity, possibly due to the deleterious effect of rare alleles under the conditions of air pollution. Consequently, following the decline of pollutant-sensitive trees, the remaining stand will be depleted of a part of alleles with unknown adaptive value to future selection pressures. © 2001 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Environmental Pollution