Multiple and mass introductions from limited origins: genetic diversity and structure of Solidago altissima in the native and invaded range.
Understanding the origins and diversity of invasive species can reveal introduction and invasion pathways, and inform an effective management of invasive species. Tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to North America and it has become a widespread invasive weed in East Asian countries. We used microsatellite and chloroplast DNA markers to obtain information on neutral processes and on genetic diversity in native and invaded populations of S. altissima and to infer how it invaded and spread in Japan. We found that introduced (n=12) and native (n=20) populations had similar levels of genetic diversity at nuclear SSR loci. Genetic structure analysis indicated that at least two independent colonization events gave rise to current S. altissima populations in Japan. The majority (68%) of the Japanese S. altissima were genetically similar and likely shared a common origin from a single or a small number of populations from the southern USA populations, while the populations in Hokkaido were suggested to arise from a different source. Our results suggest that multiple and mass introductions have contributed to the persistence and rapid adaptation of S. altissima promoting its widespread establishment throughout Japan.