Vasilina Akulova

Current projects:

Genetic and environmental contributions to growth habits in Mountain Pine

Pinus mugo complex species, which are also called mountain pines, grow at high altitudes, and they are native to the main mountains of Europe, including the Pyrenees, the Alps, and the Carpathians. Species of this complex represent different forms of growth: from creeping shrubs to upright trees. Also, P. mugo species are the natives of glacial refugia, that passed through significant environmental changes and isolation in their life history. It is crucial in a general context to find out how conifers adapt to the local environment in order to understand microsite/ecological adaptation processes of trees. Some studies show the correlation between ecological environment and the phenotype of the tree, but what conditions form the population and benefit some of the growth forms is unknown. To answer that question, we are going to use GBS data and GWAS.

Norway spruce population dynamics

Norway spruce is an economically and ecologically important conifer and grows in a lot of different environments across Europe, but it is currently challenged by environmental changes and pathogens outbursts, such as Ips typographus.  Consistent with having a very wide geographic distribution and a corresponding enormous population size, population-wide genetic differentiation (FST) of P. abies is low across populations and diversity is high. A major question though considering rapid climate change is how is adaptive diversity distributed throughout the species range? Selection is very efficient in large populations, which could lead to a deficit of adaptive variants when they are needed. Can adaptation to microsite variation maintain allelic diversity within a population (pollen flow is up to 400km), or will we need to help populations adapt with targeted assisted migration? Using GBS data we will look at the population dynamics of spruce managed and natural populations among European mountains.

Ips-Picea pathosystem: spruce metagenomics

Ips typographus outbreaks have reached unprecedented levels in conifer forests in the northern hemisphere and are expected to further intensify. We study Picea-Ips-Pathosystem metagenomics of a great variety of samples in Norway spruce populations in Europe, where we can study the species representation of Ips-related pathogens and bacteria, and fungi species that are already present in trees before bark beetle invasion.