Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A reassessment of the genome size-invasiveness relationship in reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea).

Abstract

Background and Aims: Genome size is hypothesized to affect invasiveness in plants. Key evidence comes from a previous study of invasive eastern North American populations of the grass Phalaris arundinacea: invasive genotypes with smaller genomes had higher growth rates, and genome sizes were smaller in the invasive vs. native range. This study aimed to re-investigate those patterns by examining a broader range of North American populations and by employing the modern best-practice protocol for plant genome size estimation in addition to the previously used protocol. Methods: Genome sizes were measured using both internal and pseudo-internal standardization protocols for 20 invasive and nine native range accessions of P. arundinacea. After a round of vegetative propagation to reduce maternal environmental effects, growth (stem elongation) rates of these accessions were measured in the greenhouse. Key Results: Using the best-practice protocol, there was no evidence of a correlation between genome size and growth rates (P=0.704), and no evidence for differences in genome sizes of invasive and native range accessions (P>0.353). However, using the older genome size estimation protocol, both relationships were significant (reproducing the results of the previous study). Conclusions: Genome size reduction has not driven increased invasiveness in a broad sample of North American P. arundinacea. Further, inappropriate genome size estimation techniques can create spurious correlations between genome size and plant traits such as growth rate. Valid estimation is vital to progress in understanding the potentially widespread effects of genome size on biological processes and patterns.