Natural hybridisation between Populus nigra L. and P. x canadensis Moench.  : hybrid offspring competes for niches along the Rhine river in the Netherlands

M. J. M Smulders, R Beringen, R Volosyanchuk, An Vanden Broeck, J van der Schoot, P Arens, B Vosman

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    Black poplar (Populus nigra L.) is a major species for European riparian forests but its abundance has decreased over the decades due to human influences. For restoration of floodplain woodlands, the remaining black poplar stands may act as source population. A potential problem is that P. nigra and Populus deltoides have contributed to many interspecific hybrids, which have been planted in large numbers. As these Populus x canadensis clones have the possibility to intercross with wild P. nigra trees, their offspring could establish themselves along European rivers. In this study, we have sampled 44 poplar seedlings and young trees that occurred spontaneously along the Rhine river and its tributaries in the Netherlands. Along these rivers, only a few native P. nigra L. populations exist in combination with many planted cultivated P. x canadensis trees. By comparison to reference material from P. nigra, P. deltoides and P. x canadensis, speciesspecific AFLP bands and microsatellite alleles indicated that nearly half of the sampled trees were not pure P. nigra but progeny of natural hybridisation that had colonised the Rhine river banks. The posterior probability method as implemented in NewHybrids using microsatellite data was the superior method in establishing the most likely parentage. The results of this study indicate that offspring of hybrid cultivated poplars compete for the same ecological niche as native black poplars.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTree genetics and genomes
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)663-675
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Thematic list

    • Species and biotopes

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B004-botany

    Taxonomic list

    • poplar (Populus spp.)


    • biodiversity policy

    Geographic list

    • Benelux


    • genetic technologies


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