Environmental filtering of life-history trait diversity in urban populations of Arabidopsis thaliana

Gregor Schmitz, Anja Linstaedter, Anke S. K. Frank, Hannes Dittberner, Jessica Thome, Andrea Schrader, Karl-Heinz Linne von Berg, Andrea Fulgione, George Coupland, Juliette de Meaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


The challenges to which plants are exposed in urban environments represent, in miniature, the challenges plants face as a result of global environmental change. Hence, urban habitats provide a unique opportunity to assess whether processes of local adaptation are taking place despite the short temporal and geographical scales that characterize the Anthropocene. We quantified the ecological diversity of urban habitats hosting Arabidopsis thaliana populations. Using plant community indicators, we show that these patches differ in their levels of soil nutrient content and disturbance. Accordingly, plants in each patch displayed a range of flowering time, size and fitness. Using a deep sampling approach coupled with reduced genome sequencing, we demonstrate that most individuals can be assigned to a limited set of clonal lineages; the genetic diversity of these lineages is a sample of the diversity observed in western European populations of the species, indicating that established urban populations originate from a broad regional pool of lineages. We assessed the genetic and phenotypic diversity of these lineages in a set of common garden experiments. We report marked genetic differences in life-history traits, including time of primary and secondary dormancy as well as of flowering. These genetic differences in life-history traits are not randomly distributed but sorted out by ecological differences among sites of origin. Synthesis. Our study shows that the genetically diverse phenology of a regional Arabidopsis thaliana gene pool is not randomly distributed but filtered by heterogeneity in the urban environment. To our knowledge, this report is the first to show a pattern indicative of environmental filtering enhancing local genetic adaptation within urban environments. We conclude that environmental filtering helps maintain functional diversity within species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Grant Number

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant/Award Number: TRR341


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental filtering of life-history trait diversity in urban populations of Arabidopsis thaliana'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this