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Cytogeography of Solidago gigantea (Asteraceae) and its invasive ploidy level

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Abstract Aim 

Newly formed polyploids experience problems of establishment and spread similar to those faced by newly introduced alien species. To understand the significance of polyploidy in biological invasions, we mapped the distribution of ploidy levels in Solidago gigantea Aiton in its native range in North America, and in Europe and East Asia where it is invasive. Location 

North America, Europe and East Asia. Methods 

Flow cytometry was used to measure ploidy levels in a total of 834 plants from 149 locations. Together with data from contributors and a literature review, ploidy-level data were assembled for 336 locations. Cytogeographical maps from North America and Europe were prepared, incorporating new and previously published ploidy-level data. Results 

In the native range, diploid, tetraploid and hexaploid plants were found, and also one triploid and one pentaploid plant (2n = 3x and 2n = 5x, respectively, each being new reports for this species). There was a high degree of geographical separation among the ploidy levels, and populations with mixed ploidy were rare. However, four zones were identified where plants of different ploidy could come into contact. In Europe and East Asia, only tetraploid plants were found. Main conclusions 

The geographical pattern in North America suggests that the ploidy levels are ecologically differentiated, although further investigations are needed to identify the nature of these differences. Alien populations appear to be exclusively tetraploid, but it is not clear whether this is because tetraploids were selectively introduced or because diploids were unsuccessful. In any case, comparisons between native and introduced populations need to account for ploidy level.
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Keywords: Establishment; Solidago gigantea; flow cytometry; geographical separation; invasive alien species; mixed-ploidy population; tetraploid

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Plant Ecology, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland 2: Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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