Evolving California genotypes of Avena barbata are derived from multiple introductions but still maintain substantial population structure.
Multiple introductions are thought to enhance the chance of successful colonization, in part because recombination may generate adaptive variation to a new environment. Avena barbata (slender wild oat) is a successful colonist in California, historically noted for striking genetic divergence into two multilocus genotypes, but is still undergoing adaptive change. We sought to understand whether multiple introductions might be contributing to this change. We used cpDNA phylogeography of A. barbata within its home range and in its invaded range in California to determine the minimum number of separate introductions, and the spatial distribution of these introduced lineages. We collected from sites throughout the state of California, where it is an invasive species. Accessions from a representative portion of A. barbata's full native range were obtained from germplasm repositories. We sequenced seven intergenic chloroplast DNA loci for A. barbata individuals both in California (novel geographic range) and its ancestral range. 204 individuals were assayed for chloroplast haplotype within California using single strand conformational polymorphism SSCPs. Genome size was determined by flow cytometry. Californian accessions are tetraploid as expected, but their genome sizes were smaller than the Old World accessions. There were three haplotypes present in California that were identical to haplotypes in the native range. Within California, the presence of multiple haplotypes at a site was observed primarily in Northern and Central populations. Between populations there was still substantial structure with FST ∼0.33, due to a shallow latitudinal cline caused by a preponderance of xeric haplotypes in Southern California. There was a minimum of three seed introductions to California. Recombination is thus likely to occur, and contribute to adaptation in new range in this highly-selfing, invader.