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Patterns of introduction and adaptation during the invasion of Aegilops triuncialis (Poaceae) into Californian serpentine soils

Meimberg, Harald, Milan, Neil F., Karatassiou, Maria, Espeland, Erin K., McKay, John K., Rice, Kevin J.
Molecular ecology 2010 v.19 no.23 pp. 5308
Aegilops triuncialis, adaptation, colonizing ability, genetic polymorphism, genotype, greenhouses, habitats, invasive species, loam soils, microsatellite repeats, phenotypic variation, population structure, serpentine, serpentine soils, California
Multiple introductions can play a prominent role in explaining the success of biological invasions. One often cited mechanism is that multiple introductions of invasive species prevent genetic bottlenecks by parallel introductions of several distinct genotypes that, in turn, provide heritable variation necessary for local adaptation. Here, we show that the invasion of Aegilops triuncialis into California, USA, involved multiple introductions that may have facilitated invasion into serpentine habitats. Using microsatellite markers, we compared the polymorphism and genetic structure of populations of Ae. triuncialis invading serpentine soils in California to that of accessions from its native range. In a glasshouse study, we also compared phenotypic variation in phenological and fitness traits between invasive and native populations grown on loam soil and under serpentine edaphic conditions. Molecular analysis of invasive populations revealed that Californian populations cluster into three independent introductions (i.e. invasive lineages). Our glasshouse common garden experiment found that all Californian populations exhibited higher fitness under serpentine conditions. However, the three invasive lineages appear to represent independent pathways of adaptation to serpentine soil. Our results suggest that the rapid invasion of serpentine habitats in California may have been facilitated by the existence of colonizing Eurasian genotypes pre-adapted to serpentine soils.