Phenotypic traits of the Mediterranean Phragmites australis M1 lineage: differences between the native and introduced ranges

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  • Wen Yong Guo
  • Carla Lambertini
  • ,
  • Xiao Guo, College of Landscape Architecture and Forestry, Qingdao Agricultural University
  • ,
  • Xiu Zhen Li, State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, 200062, China
  • ,
  • Franziska Eller
  • Hans Brix

The environmental conditions in the new ranges of introduced plant species are often different from the conditions in their native ranges, and invasive plant species have been assumed to adapt to different environmental conditions by rapid ecological evolution in the invasive range after the introduction. Another interpretation of the change in plant traits after their introduction, however, is ecological fitting, which is based on the inherently high phenotypic plasticity of the species rather than on evolution. The Mediterranean haplotype M1 lineage of the wetland grass Phragmites australis was introduced to the coastal wetlands along the Gulf Coast of North America, where it is exposed to a different climate compared to its original range. The climate in the native range is arid or temperate with dry and hot summers, whereas the climate in the introduced range is warmer and has a higher and more uniform precipitation than that in the native range. This warmer and more humid environment is likely to pose different selection pressures to the plants in the introduced range and thus cause rapid evolutionary change and phenotypic differentiation in the introduced range. Here, we compared phenotypic traits of the M1 lineage from the native and introduced ranges in a common garden experiment to study the processes assisting the successful spread in the introduced range. Overall, the native and introduced groups were similar, but we detected a few phenotypic traits that diverged. Ecological fitting could be the fundamental mechanism by which the P. australis M1 lineage survives and spreads in the introduced Gulf Coast region. However, further research is needed to assess how the diverging traits observed in our study in Denmark (lower photosynthetic rates, lower chlorophylls concentration and higher leaf K concentration for the introduced than for the native genotypes) are expressed in the two ranges.

TidsskriftBiological Invasions
Sider (fra-til)2551-2561
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 2016


  • Phragmites australis

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