Oak genomics proves its worth

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a woodland, you’ll be no stranger to the benefits that a walk in the woods can provide. That feeling of calm. The sprinkling of birdsong. The smell of leaves.

Forests provide many benefits: they provide employment, underpin economic development, support heritage and biodiversity, improve living conditions, protect the landscape and mitigate climate change. Trees can also be used as model organisms that we can use to study the ecological and evolutionary processes that lead to the diversity of plants on Earth.

A 350-year-old oak tree prized for the manufacture of barrels for Bordeaux wine, courtesy of Didier Bert.

The latest issue of New Phytologist is a Feature, dedicated to new findings and opinions in the field of oak genomics. 18 months after the release of the full pedunculate oak genome, some of the very first results based on this genomic resource appear in this issue. Two of the highlights include the evolutionary mechanisms that allowed oaks to colonise the northern hemisphere, and a strategy for helping oaks adapt to global change.

The photograph on the cover, courtesy of Didier Bert, was taken in one of the most beautiful oak woodlands in Europe. The 350-year-old oak tree was planted to supply the French Navy by Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert. These days, the oaks are prized for the manufacture of barrels for Cognac and the wines of Bordeaux. Or perhaps just a walk in the woods.

Read the Editorial: Plomion, C. and Martin, F. (2020) Oak genomics is proving its worth. New Phytologist, 226: 943-946. doi: 10.1111/nph.16560

Read the Feature issue: Featured papers on oak genomics

Read the press release in English or French.

Mike Whitfield
Development Coordinator
New Phytologist Trust