Recent extreme climatic events, such as extended drought periods, impose serious threats to the functioning of forest ecosystems. To date, the role of symbiotic plant-fungus interactions in response to drought is poorly understood and its assessment requires an integrative framework linking genotypic, phenotypic, and environmental data from natural populations and experimental validation of in situ observations. Our aim is to enlarge the knowledge gained from recent studies on natural beech populations to belowground adaptation processes. In particular, we need to know whether the key mutualistic partners of forest trees are adapted to their local habitat and whether the trees and fungi form a co-adaptation complex that could confer nutrient and water supply benefits under adverse environmental conditions. The results will be of interest to evolutionary biologists, ecologists, plant breeders and foresters in the context of assisted migration strategies.
2022 - 2024