TREVOL: The relative role of fire in trait evolution of mediterranean plants

TREVOL: El papel relativo del fuego en la evolución de rasgos en plantas mediterráneas

Funding: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2012-39938-C02-00 / 01 / 02), Spanish Government; Period: 1 Jan 2013 - 31 Dec 2015

Coordinador: Juli G Pausas (CIDE, CSIC)

Institutions involved:
   ·Subproject 01: CIDE-CSIC, Centro de Investigaciones sobre Desertificación (CIDE, CSIC, Valencia, Spain)
   ·Subproject 02: COMAV-UPV, Instituto Universitario de Conservación y Mejora de la Agrodiversidad Valenciana (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain)

   ·CIDE: Juli G Pausas (IP), M. Clara Castellanos, Santiago Donat, Yedra García.
   ·COMAV: Joaquin (Ximo) Cañizares (IP), José Blanca, P. Ziarsolo.


Wildfires have been occurring in many ecosystems for millennia. There is an increasing amount of information suggesting that wildfires are an evolutionary pressure shaping plant traits. Most evidence comes from macro-evolutionary studies, and there is a lack of evidence from field studies. In a previous project we demonstrated that exposure to different fire regimes can select for specific fire-related phenotypes in Mediterranean plants. Plants from recurrently burnt populations are more flammable and have a more fire-dependent seed bank (e.g., higher serotiny) than plants living in populations that rarely burn. While there is a tendency for phenotypic differentiation under different fire regimes, we still do not know if this variation has a genetic basis and thus we cannot yet fully demonstrate that fire is a selective force driving trait evolution. In this project we will go a step further by (1) studying the heritability of fire-related traits in natural populations, and (2) comparing variability of fire-dependent and fire-independent (floral) traits in relation to fire regime. With these two approaches we will be able to understand the relative contribution of fire regime to trait evolution in Mediterranean plants. We will make use of results and populations from previous projects and focus on a shrub species (one of Ulex parviflorus, Rosmarinus officinalis, or Cistus albidus; to be decided when finishing our ongoing project) and one tree (Pinus halepensis). Heritability will be estimated directly in field populations using high numbers of molecular markers designed with high-throughput new generation sequencing. That is, the project will contribute to scientific advances in two domains: conceptually (fire and trait evolution) and technically (heritability estimation in the field). The project benefits from the complementarity of two research groups: the CIDE-CSIC group (subproject 1, TREVOL-1) with strong expertise in ecological and evolutionary questions in natural ecosystems, especially in relation to fire, and the COMAV-UPV group (subproject 2, TREVOL-2) with expertise in developing highly polymorphic genetic markers to answer evolutionary questions (mainly in agricultural systems).


- Task 1. Sites and species, and compilation from previous projects
- Task 2. Sequencing and marker development for a Mediterranean shrub
- Task 3. Genetic structure and fire regime
- Task 4. Phenotypic variation of fire-related and fire-independent traits
- Task 5. Heritability of fire-related and fire-independent traits
- Task 6. Heritability estimates of serotiny in Pinus halepensis
- Task 7. Dissemination



PhD Theses