An intensive study plot to investigate chestnut tree reproduction

Key message

Pollination is a key step for fruit production. To provide a tool for future in-depth analysis of pollination in chestnut, we describe in detail a chestnut orchard (location, genotype, phenotype and seed-set of all trees).


Context Chestnuts, which are insect-pollinated trees, have been massively planted around the world for nut production. Orchards are planted with clonal varieties selected from crosses between the European chestnuts (Castanea sativa) and Japanese chestnuts (C. crenata) or Chinese chestnuts (C. mollissima) because these two last species are tolerant to blight and ink diseases.
Aims To characterize chestnut genetic resources and accurately model male and female fitness as well as pollen exchanges in orchards, we characterized all chestnuts of the INRAE chestnut germplasm collection located near Bordeaux (France).
Methods All chestnut trees were geolocated and genotyped using 79 SNP and 98 SSR loci. We scored their flowering phenology using chestnut BBCH scale and precisely described their phenotype (height, diameter a breast height (DBH), canopy diameter…), their capacity to produce pollen (flower type, catkins length…) and their fruit production (number of burrs, seed-set…).
Results We geolocated 275 trees and genotyped 273 of them. We identified 115 unique genotypes and assigned each genotype to species. To assess phenology, we evaluated 244 trees twice a week, for 6 weeks from early June to mid-July. We also described tree phenotypes with 11 variables, pollen production with 5 variables and fruit production with 3 variables. All measures were recorded in 2018 except seed set that was measured two consecutive years, in 2018 and 2019.
Conclusion The data collected is very detailed and allows modelling precisely pollen exchanges between trees. Parts of this data have been successfully published in scientific articles.

Fagaceae; Castanea sp.; Genotype; SNP; Species assignation; Varietal identification; Phenotype; Flower types; Staminate; Astaminate; Male sterility

Larue, C., Barreneche, T. & Petit, R.J. An intensive study plot to investigate chestnut tree reproduction. Annals of Forest Science 78, 90 (2021).

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Data availability
Data is available at:

Associated metadata are described in a template called “original_file_metadata.xlsx”, and are available at:

Handling Editor
Marianne Peiffer

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