Background: Austrocedrus chilensis
(D. Don) Pic. Ser. et Bizzarri commonly known as Patagonian cypress is a member of the Cupressaceae family, characterized by a high adaptive potential for growing in marginal areas and good timber quality. The species grows over a wide area and under a wide range of rainfall. This study assessed adaptive genetic variation at SNP level in candidate genes involved in response to drought stress.
A total of 18 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found among 1,428 bp. Average nucleotide diversity value (π = 0.00312) was similar to those previously reported in other Cupressaceae. The Fst average among genes and populations was 0.163 and the lowest differentiation was observed in continuous and humid populations. A number of neutrality tests were applied to find evidence of positive selection in our candidate gene set, but only AcAQP2
gene in Pedregoso and San Ramón populations revealed significant departures from neutrality with positive values suggesting balancing selection.
In this study we report the levels of nucleotide diversity searched in some drought stress candidate genes in Austrocedrus chilensis
and the selective factors that may be acting on this species.