Reed canarygrass is an important agricultural crop thought to be native to Europe, Asia, and North America. However, it is one of the worst wetland invaders in North American wetlands. The native North American status has been supported by the circumstantial evidence of early botanical records and the dating and location of herbarium specimens. The lack of empirical evidence has left the North American native status of the species in doubt and prevented comparisons between native North American and Eurasian populations of the species. We utilized genetic markers to compare a wide range of European and Asian collections to DNA extracted from 38 early North American herbarium specimens. The genetic data confirm the presence of a distinct population present throughout North America in the early twentieth century, but not present in Europe or Asia, ranging from Alaska, USA to New Brunswick, Canada. These native North American populations of reed canarygrass are likely present throughout Alaska today, as one specimen was collected as recently as 1996, and may still be present in other regions of North America. Future research can utilize this dataset to determine the origin of present-day invasive populations in North American wetlands.
Population genetics Native range Phalaris arundinaceaHerbarium specimens Invasive species Chloroplast DNA
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This work was funded in part by Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative grant 941-3 and by USDA-ARS funds. We are grateful to the University of Alaska Museum of the North (ALA; in particular, Matt Carlson of the University of Alaska-Anchorage), the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota (MIN), The University of Wisconsin Herbarium (WIS), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada DAO Herbarium, the Universitè Laval Herbarium (QFA), and the Iowa State University Herbarium (ISC) for allowing us to sample tissue from specimens. We also wish to thank Dr. Hasan Khatib for the use of his lab for herbarium specimen DNA extractions and PCR setup.
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