School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Louise Gathercole

PhD student

Email: l.a.p.gathercole@qmul.ac.uk

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Project title: Oak Tree Genomes and Their Microbiota

Summary: Oaks are widely distributed trees found throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Quercus Robur and Quercus Petraea are oak species native to the UK and have huge cultural, ecological and economic value.

Oaks are long-living trees and have to adapt to changing biotic and abiotic factors to survive. They interact with a multitude of microorganisms as well as fungi, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals during their long lifespan; some of these interactions are beneficial while others can compromise their health and bring diseases, such as chronic oak decline, acute oak decline and sudden oak death. A changing climate may alter the factors affecting trees and their ability to respond.

In collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Forest Research, whole genome short read sequence data was generated for the genomes and leaf microbiomes of about 450 oak trees across five UK locations.

This project aims to analyze this data to uncover the genetic diversity of oak tree microbiota; to discover if there are differences between healthy and diseased trees and to begin to understand the genetic components underlying oak health.

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