Project Background

The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland is collaborating with the Phenology Research Group, Department of Botany, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden on a phenology research project. Annelies Pletsers of Trinity College is undertaking a PhD research project entitled ‘Climate change impacts on phenology: implications for terrestrial ecosystems’. Part of the project involves assessing genetic variation in natural populations of Aspen (Populus tremula). Aspen has a wide longitudinal and latitudinal range. It shows variation in bud burst across this range, and we aim to identify genetic variation in this range also. We are identifying candidate genes and assessing for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in these genes.

Project Aims

  • To establish the levels of variation in a set of temperature-related genes.
  • We will use samples from across the range of Aspen.
  • To determine any geographic patterns in genetic variation across Europe.


We are currently gathering samples from across Europe and need samples from the UK from as broad a geographic range as possible. We would be extremely grateful to anyone who is in a position to send us samples from wild populations. Garden collections are not suitable unless they are from known wild provenance. We would be grateful if you could offer specific help as follows:

  • Send me 10 samples of twigs from Aspen (Populus tremula). Each sample should be a small twig containing at least 4 buds and the 10 samples should be from different trees. The trees should be at least 10m apart and be from a natural population.
  • Please note the date, name of collector/verifier and location of the population (GPS or grid reference preferable).
  • The samples can be sent by post in a zip lock bag.

If you want more details or want us to send you a zip lock bag and a return envelope, please contact Colin Kelleher (colin.kelleher at