Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 1895–1910 | Cite as

The population genetics of the fundamental cytotype-shift in invasive Centaurea stoebe s.l.: genetic diversity, genetic differentiation and small-scale genetic structure differ between cytotypes but not between ranges

  • Christoph Rosche
  • Walter Durka
  • Isabell Hensen
  • Patrik Mráz
  • Matthias Hartmann
  • Heinz Müller-Schärer
  • Susanne Lachmuth
Original Paper


Polyploids are overrepresented in invasive species. Yet, the role of genetic diversity and drift in colonization success of polyploids remains unclear. Here, we investigate genetic diversity, genetic differentiation and small-scale genetic structure in our model system, the three geo-cytotypes of Centaurea stoebe: monocarpic diploids and polycarpic (allo)tetraploids coexist in the native range (Eurasia), but only tetraploids are reported from the invasive range (North America). For each geo-cytotype, we investigated 18–20 populations varying in size and habitat type (natural vs. ruderal). Population genetic analyses were conducted at eight microsatellite loci. Compared to diploids, tetraploids revealed higher genetic diversity and lower genetic differentiation, whereas both were comparable in tetraploids between both ranges. Within spatial distances of a few meters, diploid individuals were more strongly related to one another than tetraploids. In addition, expected heterozygosity in diploids increased with population size and was higher in natural than in ruderal habitats. However, neither relationship was found for tetraploids. The higher genetic diversity of tetraploid C. stoebe may have enhanced its colonization abilities, if genetic diversity is correlated with fitness and adaptive capabilities. Furthermore, the inheritance of a duplicated chromosome set as well as longevity and frequent gene flow reduces drift in tetraploids. This counteracts genetic depletion during initial introductions and in subsequent phases of small or fluctuating population sizes in ruderal habitats. Our findings advocate the importance of studying colonization genetic processes to gain a more mechanistic understanding of the role of polyploidy in invasion dynamics.


Biological invasion Centaurea stoebe Colonization Genetic diversity Geo-cytotype Polyploidy 



This study was supported by a graduate stipend of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt (to C.R.), and a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) funded exchange scholarship (Grant Number D|12|00534 to C.R.). We are grateful to B. Müller, M. Laudien, I. Geyer and M. Herrmann for their efforts in the lab, and to A. Diaconou, S. Španiel, B. Banan, R.M. Callaway, J. Maron, A. Schaar, C. Herron-Sweet, V. Mrázová, J. Hoheimer, I. Link, F. Rosche, G. Newcombe and A. Vitale for their help during field work. We thank K. Schrieber, C. S. Brown and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on previous versions of the manuscript.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

All authors have given formal consent to the publication of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10530_2016_1133_MOESM1_ESM.doc (778 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 778 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Rosche
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Walter Durka
    • 2
    • 4
  • Isabell Hensen
    • 1
    • 4
  • Patrik Mráz
    • 3
  • Matthias Hartmann
    • 3
  • Heinz Müller-Schärer
    • 5
  • Susanne Lachmuth
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical GardenMartin Luther University Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  2. 2.Department Community Ecology (BZF)Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZHalleGermany
  3. 3.Herbarium and Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Department of Biology, Unit of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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