Molecular evidence that fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis, Asteraceae) is of South African origin
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ITS1 sequence data was obtained for fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) andS. lautus from Australia,S. madagascariensis andS. inaequidens from South Africa andS. madagascariensis from Madagascar. Despite the low level of variation (0.0–3.4%), these data further resolve the controversy concerning the identity and origin of fireweed. They confirm that fireweed is part of the South AfricanS. madagascariensis/S. inaequidens complex, and indicate that the infestation in Australia originated from South Africa as opposed to Madagascar. This will facilitate a resumption of biological control efforts in Australia and will direct surveys for control agents to South Africa.
Key wordsAsteraceae Senecioneae Senecio S. madagascariensis S. inaequidens S. lautus Weed genetics internal transcribed spacer ITS biological control
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