Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Cytogeography of Oxalis pes-caprae in its native range: where are the pentaploids?

Abstract

Due to its instantaneous effects on the genetics, phenotype, physiology and/or ecology of a plant, polyploidy can play an important role in facilitating plant invasions. Understanding the determinants of invasiveness in species with multiple ploidy levels requires a detailed knowledge of ploidy composition in native versus invaded ranges. Using DNA flow cytometry, we performed representative ploidy screening (277 localities, 333 individuals) across the native range of Oxalis pes-caprae and compared the data with those from invaded ranges. Both ranges showed striking differences in ploidy composition: whereas tetra- and especially pentaploids successfully colonized secondary areas, only di-, (very rare) tri- and tetraploids (dominant) were found in the native range of this species. Disregarding the diploid var. sericea, diploids and tetraploids of the nominate variety showed largely parapatric distribution in the native range, with a zone of overlap in the Northern Cape Province. Our results challenge the conventional scenario of the introduction of pentaploid individuals from the Greater Cape Floristic Region. The origin of the pentaploid cytotype is unclear and molecular tools applied in a large scale screening are needed to understand the invasion history of the species.