Molecular Evidence for an Extreme Genetic Bottleneck During Introduction of an Invading Grass to California
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- Meimberg, H., Hammond, J.I., Jorgensen, C.M. et al. Biol Invasions (2006) 8: 1355. doi:10.1007/s10530-005-2463-7
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Although exotic species cause tremendous economic and ecological loss, we know relatively little about the post-introduction evolutionary dynamics of the invasive species themselves. Barbed goatgrass, Aegilops triuncialis L., is a cleistogamous annual grass with a native range throughout the Mediterranean Basin and Asia and introduced to California during the last century. It is considered a serious noxious range weed and is one of the few exotic plant species that is invading serpentine soil habitats. We examined whether patterns of molecular variation are consistent with a single or multiple introduction events into California and further, if individual populations show evidence for a genetic bottleneck during introduction. Fingerprinting patterns, using microsatellite loci derived from Triticum aestivum, were investigated for 57 Eurasian accessions, broadly spanning the native range and for 108 individuals from 11 localities in California. There is strong evidence for an extreme bottleneck in this species as it colonizes its new range because we detected only three multilocus genotypes occurring in California and 36 genotypes in Eurasia. In California one of the genotypes differs from one other by only one fragment and only occurs in one individual. This suggests two separate introductions. Each population is composed of highly uniform individuals and the two main genotypes are geographically separated. A. triuncialis is still expanding its range in California despite genomic uniformity after a strong bottleneck and its recently increased rate of spread is not correlated to a high within-population variability created by multiple introductions.