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Article|10 Apr 2023|OPEN
Population genomics reveals demographic history and selection signatures of hazelnut (Corylus)
Zhen Yang1 , Wenxu Ma1,2 , Lujun Wang3 , Xiaohong Yang4 , Tiantian Zhao1 , Lisong Liang1 and Guixi Wang1 , Qinghua Ma,1 ,
1Key Laboratory of Tree Breeding and Cultivation, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing, 100091, China
2Forest Botany and Tree Physiology, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, 37077, Germany
3Research Institute of Economic Forest Cultivation and Processing, Anhui Academy of Forestry, Hefei, 230031, China
4Research Institute of Walnut, Guizhou Academy of Forestry, Guiyang, 550005, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad065 (2023)
Views: 252

Received: 10 Nov 2022
Accepted: 02 Apr 2023
Published online: 10 Apr 2023


Hazelnut (Corylus spp.) is known as one of the four famous tree nuts in the world due to its pleasant taste and nutritional benefits. However, hazelnut promotion worldwide is increasingly challenged by global climate change, limiting its production to a few regions. Focusing on the eurytopic Section Phyllochlamys, we conducted whole-genome resequencing of 125 diverse accessions from five geo-ecological zones in Eurasia to elucidate the genomic basis of adaptation and improvement. Population structure inference outlined five distinct genetic lineages corresponding to climate conditions and breeding background, and highlighted the differentiation between European and Asian lineages. Demographic dynamics and ecological niche modeling revealed that Pleistocene climatic oscillations dominantly shaped the extant genetic patterns, and multiple environmental factors have contributed to the lineage divergence. Whole-genome scans identified 279, 111, and 164 selective sweeps that underlie local adaptation in Corylus heterophyllaCorylus kweichowensis, and Corylus yunnanensis, respectively. Relevant positively selected genes were mainly involved in regulating signaling pathways, growth and development, and stress resistance. The improvement signatures of hybrid hazelnut were concentrated in 312 and 316 selected genes, when compared to C. heterophylla and Corylus avellana, respectively, including those that regulate protein polymerization, photosynthesis, and response to water deprivation. Among these loci, 22 candidate genes were highly associated with the regulation of biological quality. Our study provides insights into evolutionary processes and the molecular basis of how sibling species adapt to contrasting environments, and offers valuable resources for future climate-resilient breeding.