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    Key triggers of adaptive genetic variability of sessile oak [Q. petraea (Matt.) Liebl.] from the Balkan refugia: outlier detection and association of SNP loci from ddRAD-seq data

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    Knowledge on the genetic composition of Quercus petraea in south-eastern Europe is limited despite the species‚Äô significant role in the re-colonisation of Europe during the Holocene, and the diverse climate and physical geography of the region. Therefore, it is imperative to conduct research on adaptation in sessile oak to better understand its ecological significance in the region. While large sets of SNPs have been developed for the species, there is a continued need for smaller sets of SNPs that are highly informative about the possible adaptation to this varied landscape. By using double digest restriction site associated DNA sequencing data from our previous study, we mapped RAD-seq loci to the Quercus robur reference genome and identified a set of SNPs putatively related to drought stress-response. A total of 179 individuals from eighteen natural populations at sites covering heterogeneous climatic conditions in the southeastern natural distribution range of Q. petraea were genotyped. The detected highly polymorphic variant sites revealed three genetic clusters with a generally low level of genetic differentiation and balanced diversity among them but showed a north‚Äďsoutheast gradient. Selection tests showed nine outlier SNPs positioned in different functional regions. Genotype-environment association analysis of these markers yielded a total of 53 significant associations, explaining 2.4‚Äď16.6% of the total genetic variation. Our work exemplifies that adaptation to drought may be under natural selection in the examined Q. petraea populations