“Pando” Lives: Molecular Genetic Evidence of a Giant Aspen Clone in Central Utah
Western North American Naturalist
Brigham Young University
While clones of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides, Michx.) in the Intermountain West of North America are expected to be large, one putative genet in central Utah, identified from morphological evidence, has garnered particular attention for its size, even gaining the nickname “Pando” (Latin for “I spread”). In order to determine if a single genetic individual coincides with the morphological boundary of “Pando,” we sampled 209 stems on a 50-m grid throughout the putative clone for analysis at 7 microsatellite loci. We have identified a single genetic entity concurrent with that described from morphological characteristics. Spatial analyses indicate that the clone covers approximately 43.6 ha. Surprisingly, an additional 40 genotypes were identified adjacent to the putative clone, indicating that genet diversity may be high in the stand as a whole. In confirming the existence of the “Pando” clone, we suggest that this organism will provide valuable opportunities to study important biological processes such as clonal growth, somatic mutation, and senescence.
DeWoody J, Rowe CA, Hipkins VD, Mock KE (2008) “Pando” lives: molecular genetic evidence of a giant aspen clone in central Utah. Western North American Naturalist, 68, 493-497.