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Strategies for conservation of germplasm in endemic redwoods in the face of climate change: a review

  • M. R. Ahuja (a1)

This study reviews the various conservation strategies applied to the four redwood species, namely coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Sierra redwood or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and South American redwood or alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), which are endemic in the USA, China and South America, respectively. All four redwood genera belong to the family Cupressaceae; they are monospecific, share a number of common phenotypic traits, including red wood, and are threatened in their native ranges due to human activity and a changing climate. Therefore, the management objective should be to conserve representative populations of the native species with as much genetic diversity as possible for their future survival. Those representative populations exhibiting relatively high levels of genetic diversity should be selected for germplasm preservation and monitored during the conservation phase by using molecular markers. In situ and ex situ strategies for the preservation of germplasm of the redwoods are discussed in this study. A holistic in situ gene conservation strategy calls for the regeneration of a large number of diverse redwood genotypes that exhibit adequate levels of neutral and adaptive genetic variability, by generative and vegetative methods for their preservation and maintenance in their endemic locations. At the same time, it would be desirable to conserve the redwoods in new ex situ reserves, away from their endemic locations with similar as well as different environmental conditions for testing their growth and survival capacities. In addition, other ex situ strategies involving biotechnological approaches for preservation of seeds, tissues, pollen and DNA in genebanks should also be fully exploited in the face of global climate change.

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