Biological Invasions

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 281-292

First online:

Evolutionary Processes Associated with Biological Invasions in the Brassicaceae

  • Herbert HurkaAffiliated withDepartment of Systematic Botany, University of Osnabrück
  • , Walter BleekerAffiliated withDepartment of Systematic Botany, University of Osnabrück
  • , Barbara NeufferAffiliated withDepartment of Systematic Botany, University of Osnabrück

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This review highlights evolutionary processes in the Brassicaceae which cause, accompany or are a consequence of biological invasions. Case studies in Capsella and Diplotaxis address the genetics of colonising species. The greatest colonising ability in Capsella bursa-pastoris is associated with polyploidy, predominant selfing, and high genetic diversity. Success of colonial populations seems to be due to the introduction of preadapted genotypes. Colonising species in Diplotaxis reveal contrasting evolutionary patterns. Genetic attributes in D. muralis include annuality, polyploidy, and predominant selfing. Very different from Capsella, D. muralis is nearly devoid of genetic diversity as revealed by molecular markers. In contrast to D. muralis, the colonising D. tenuifolia is perennial, diploid, self-incompatible, and displays high genetic diversity. Hybrid speciation, establishment of the hybrids in man-made habitats, stabilisation of their reproductive system, and reproductive isolation from the parent populations were analysed in Cardamine. The Nasturtium example highlights the importance of hybridisation for the evolution of invasiveness. The last case study concentrates on the evolutionary consequences of hybridisation between native and invading Rorippa species. Introgressive hybridisation between the invasive Rorippa austriaca and native Rorippa species is common and widespread in central Europe, and interspecific gene transfer has led to the formation of a new invasive genotype. Each successful invasion presents new aspects and sound case studies are needed in order to understand the ecology and evolution of the colonisation process and to enable us to assess the evolutionary consequences of biological invasions.

Brassicaceae Capsella Cardamine Diplotaxis hybridisation invasiveness man-made habitats Nasturtium Rorippa