Here is some interesting data coming out of the Baja Araptus attenuatus project. We looked at methylation variation, localized within the genome and compared the amount of among-population variation present. The underlying idea here is that in insects, methylation is more often encountered in coding regions, and has been shown in many cases to be influencing phenotype.
The Forest ecosystem genomics Research: supporTing Transatlantic Cooperation project (FoResTTraC) sponsored a workshop in August 2010 to evaluate the potential for using a landscape genomics approach for studying plant adaptation to the environment and the potential of local populations for coping with changing climate. This paper summarizes our discussions and articulates a vision of how we believe forest trees offer an unparalleled opportunity to address fundamental biological questions, as well as the application of landscape genomic methods complement traditional forest genetic approaches to provide critical information needed for natural resource management. In this paper, we will cover four topics. First, we begin by defining landscape genomics and briefly reviewing the unique situation for tree species in the application of this approach toward understanding plant adaptation to the environment. Second, we review traditional approaches in forest genetics for studying local adaptation and identifying loci underlying locally adapted phenotypes. Third, we present existing and emerging methods available for landscape genomic analyses. Finally, we briefly touch on how these approaches can aid in understanding practical topics such as management of tree populations facing climate change.
Whether they are used to describe fitness, genome architecture or the spatial distribution of environmental variables, the concept of a landscape has figured prominently in our collective reasoning. The tradition of landscapes in evolutionary biology is one of fitness mapped onto axes defined by phenotypes or molecular sequence states. The characteristics of these landscapes depend on natural selection, which is structured across both genomic and environmental landscapes, and thus, the bridge among differing uses of the landscape concept (i.e. metaphorically or literally) is that of an adaptive phenotype and its distribution across geographical landscapes in relation to selective pressures. One of the ultimate goals of evolutionary biology should thus be to construct fitness landscapes in geographical space. Natural plant populations are ideal systems with which to explore the feasibility of attaining this goal, because much is known about the quantitative genetic architecture of complex traits for many different plant species. What is less known are the molecular components of this architecture. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Parchman et al. (2012) pioneer one of the first truly genome-wide association studies in a tree that moves us closer to this form of mechanistic understanding for an adaptive phenotype in natural populations of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.).