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Article|11 Dec 2023|OPEN
Populus cathayana genome and population resequencing provide insights into its evolution and adaptation
Xiaodong Xiang1,2,4 , Xinglu Zhou1,2,4 , Hailing Zi3,4 , Hantian Wei1 , Demei Cao1 , Yahong Zhang1 , Lei Zhang1,2 , , Jianjun Hu,1,2 ,
1State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Key Laboratory of Tree Breeding and Cultivation of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2Co-innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210037, China
3Novogene Bioinformatics Institute, Beijing 100083, China
4Co-first authors contributing equally to this work.
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 11,
Article number: uhad255 (2024)
Views: 20

Received: 11 Aug 2023
Accepted: 20 Nov 2023
Published online: 11 Dec 2023


Populus cathayana Rehder, an indigenous poplar species of ecological and economic importance, is widely distributed in a high-elevation range from southwest to northeast China. Further development of this species as a sustainable poplar resource has been hindered by a lack of genome information the at the population level. Here, we produced a chromosome-level genome assembly of P. cathayana, covering 406.55 Mb (scaffold N50 = 20.86 Mb) and consisting of 19 chromosomes, with 35 977 protein-coding genes. Subsequently, we made a genomic variation atlas of 438 wild individuals covering 36 representative geographic areas of P. cathayana, which were divided into four geographic groups. It was inferred that the Northwest China regions served as the genetic diversity centers and a population bottleneck happened during the history of P. cathayana. By genotype–environment association analysis, 947 environment-association loci were significantly associated with temperature, solar radiation, precipitation, and altitude variables. We identified local adaptation genes involved in DNA repair and UV radiation response, among which UVR8HY5, and CUL4 had key roles in high-altitude adaptation of P. cathayana. Predictions of adaptive potential under future climate conditions showed that P. cathayana populations in areas with drastic climate change were anticipated to have greater maladaptation risk. These results provide comprehensive insights for understanding wild poplar evolution and optimizing adaptive potential in molecular breeding.