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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01467

High genetic diversity with weak phylogeographic structure of the invasive Spartina alterniflora (Poaceae) in China

 Lei Shang1,  Linfeng Li2,  Zhiping Song1, Yi Wang1,  Ji Yang1,  CHUAN-CHAO WANG1, Shi-Yun Qiu1,  Jin-Xin Huang1, Ming Nie1, Lorne Wolfe3 and  Bo Li1*
  • 1Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, China
  • 2Washington University in St. Louis, United States
  • 3School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Biological invasion represents a global issue of concern due to its large negative impacts on native ecosystems and society. Elucidating the evolutionary history and genetic basis underpinning invasiveness is critical to understanding how alien species invade and adapt to novel environments. Smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora, 2n = 6x = 62) is a notorious invasive species that causes heavily negative effects on native ecosystems worldwide. Here we addressed the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the invasion and dispersal history of this species along the China coast in the past decades. We employed nine microsatellites and three chloroplast genes to investigate phylogeographic structure and genetic diversity of 22 native and invasive S. alterniflora populations in United States and China. Demographic history simulation was also performed for both the native and invasive populations, respectively. Comparative genetic analyses of these natural populations revealed that although all the Chinese populations were introduced only once, high level of genetic diversity with weak geographic structure was observed. In particular, both the genetic features and mathematical simulation illustrated very recent population expansion in the Chinese populations. In addition, we found that genetic variants identified in native US populations were mixed in the Chinese populations, suggesting the recombination of these original variants during the invasion process. These genetic attributes indicate that Chinese populations might not have experienced a genetic bottleneck during the invasion process. High genetic diversity and genetic admixture might have contributed to the success of invasion of S. alterniflora in China. Our study provides a framework of how the smooth cordgrass spreads along the China coast as well as its potential genetic mechanisms underlying the invasion.

Keywords: Genetic admixture, Mathematical simulation, Population variation, plant invasion, Rapid evolution, Spartina alterniflora

Received: 28 Jul 2019; Accepted: 22 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Shang, Li, Song, Wang, Yang, WANG, Qiu, Huang, Nie, Wolfe and Li. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Bo Li, Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200433, China,