Genetics of weed invasions

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Abstract

Understanding the genetics of colonization is important not only to evolutionary studies and population biology, but also to agriculture and conservation. Basic features of weediness and successful worldwide colonists are briefly reviewed with emphasis on genetic processes. Based non a detailed review of breeding system and genetic variation patterns in Echinochloa (barnyard grass) and Eichhornia (water hyacinth), two major aquatic weeds, strong evidence is found for the effects of founder events as well as strong selective pressures during colonization. Information on the genetic structure, reproductive biology, and evolutionary dynamics in the past and present would be helpful in devising effective methods of biological control. For example, there is indirect evidence for greater success in the biological control of asexually reproducing weeds. This is clearly a largely unexplored area in population biology.