Linking genetic variation in adaptive plant traits to climate in basin wildrye

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In common gardens at two sites over two years differences in both ploidy type and genetic variation within ploidy were observed in phenology, morphology, and production traits on 57 octoploid and 52 tetraploid basin wildrye from the Intermountain West. Octoploids had larger leaves, longer culms, and greater crown circumference than tetraploids but the numerical ranges of plant traits and their source climates overlapped between ploidy types. Still, among populations octoploids often had greater genetic variation for traits and occupied more diverse climates than tetraploids.  The link between genetic traits and seed source climates suggests climate driven natural selection and adaptive evolution in basin wildrye. The more diverse climates occupied by octoploids and higher trait variation suggests a higher capacity for ecological differentiation than tetraploids in the Intermountain West.

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