The capacity to tolerate freezing temperatures limits the geographical distribution of many plants, including several species of agricultural importance. However, the genes involved in freezing tolerance remain largely unknown. Here, we describe the variation in constitutive freezing tolerance that occurs among worldwide accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that although plants from high latitudes tend to be more freezing tolerant than plants from low latitudes, the environmental factors that shape cold adaptation differ across the species range. Consistent with this, we found that the genetic architecture of freezing tolerance also differs across its range. Conventional genome-wide association studies helped identify a priori and other promising candidate genes. However, simultaneously modelling climate variables and freezing tolerance together pinpointed other excellent a priori candidate genes. This suggests that if the selective factor underlying phenotypic variation is known, multi-trait mixed models may aid in identifying the genes that underlie adaptation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science