Phenotypic plasticity rather than locally adapted ecotypes allows the invasive alligator weed to colonize a wide range of habitats

Geng, Yu-Peng and Pan, Xiao-Yun and Xu, Cheng-Yuan and Zhang, Wen-Ju and Li, Bo and Chen, Jia-Kuan and Lu, Bao-Rong and Song, Zhi-Ping (2007) Phenotypic plasticity rather than locally adapted ecotypes allows the invasive alligator weed to colonize a wide range of habitats. Biological Invasions, 9 (3). pp. 245-256. ISSN 1387-3547


Both phenotypic plasticity and locally adapted ecotypes may contribute to the success of invasive species in a wide range of habitats. Here, we conducted common garden experiments and molecular marker analysis to test the two alternative hypotheses in invasive alligator weed
(Alternanthera philoxeroides), which colonizes both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Ninety individuals from three pairs of aquatic versus terrestrial populations across southern China were analyzed, using inter simple sequence repeat (ISSR) marker, to examine population differentiation
in neutral loci. Two common gardens simulating aquatic and terrestrial habitats were set up to examine population differentiation in quantitative traits. We found no evidence of population differentiation in both neutral loci and quantitative traits. Most individuals shared the same ISSR genotype. Meanwhile, plants from different habitats
showed similar reaction norms across the two common gardens. In particular, plants allocated much more biomass to the belowground roots in the terrestrial environment, where alligator weed may lose part or all of the aboveground shoots because of periodical or accidental disturbances, than those in the aquatic environment. The combined evidence from molecular marker analysis
and common garden experiments support the plasticity hypothesis rather than the ecotype hypothesis in explaining the adaptation of alligator weed in a wide range of habitats.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author version not held.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Biological and Physical Sciences
Date Deposited: 04 May 2010 05:31
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alternanthera philoxeroides, common garden experiment, ecotype, invasive species, molecular marker, phenotypic plasticity
Fields of Research : 06 Biological Sciences > 0607 Plant Biology > 060705 Plant Physiology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s10530-006-9029-1

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