, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1189-1203
Date: 28 Oct 2008

Asexual spread versus sexual reproduction and evolution in Japanese Knotweed s.l. sets the stage for the “Battle of the Clones”

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The invasion of NW Europe by a single clone of male-sterile Fallopia japonica var. japonica by purely vegetative reproduction has demonstrated that reproduction by seed and the genetic diversity associated with it may not be an essential feature of plant invasions, at least in the short term. What is less well known is that a significant proportion of the Japanese Knotweed s.l. involved is not F. japonica var. japonica, but the hybrid between it and F. sachalinensisF. × bohemica. This hybrid is able to backcross to either parent with the potential to replace the missing male F. japonica; by the same process, the hybrid is generating the genetic diversity so conspicuously lacking in F. japonica. In terms of understanding the population structure in a particular country, it is important to be able to identify hybrids and putative back-crosses. We bring together a mixture of published and unpublished information to provide a comprehensive section on morphological and anatomical aids to identification. Regeneration of plants from stem and rhizome fragments varies by taxon, as do responses to control techniques, underlining the importance of correct identification of these plants. In this paper we look closely at this group of taxa, with special emphasis on the role played by hybridization, with an examination of the genetic make up of seedlings produced in the wild or by artificial hybridizations, and the implications that this will have on the future directions of the invasion process.