Divergence in life-history and developmental traits in Silvery-Thread Moss (Bryum argenteum Hedw.) genotypes between golf course putting greens and native habitats.
Silvery-Thread Moss (Bryum argenteum Hedw.) is an undesirable invader of golf course putting greens across North America, establishing colonies and proliferating despite practices to suppress it. The goal was to grow genotypes of green (growing in putting greens) and native (growing in habitats outside of putting greens) B. argenteum in a common garden experiment, allowing an experimental test of life-history traits between genotypes from these two habitats. Seventeen collections of green and 17 collections of native B. argenteum were cloned to single genotypes and raised through a minimum of two asexual generations in the lab. A culture of each genotype was initiated using a single detached shoot apex and was allowed to grow for 6 mo under conditions of inorganic nutrients present and absent. Compared with genotypes from native habitats, genotypes of B. argenteum from putting greens exhibited earlier shoot regeneration and shoot induction, faster protonemal extension, longer (higher) shoots, lower production of gemmae and bulbils, and greater aerial rhizoid cover, and showed similar tendencies of chlorophyll fluorescence properties and chlorophyll content. Cultures receiving no inorganic nutrients produced less chlorophyll content, greatly reduced growth, and bleaching of shoots. Mosses from putting greens establish more quickly, grow faster, produce more abundant rhizoids, and yet do not produce as many specialized asexual propagules compared with mosses of the same species from native habitats. The highly managed putting green environment has either selected for a suite of traits that allow the moss to effectively compete with grasses, or genotypic diversity is very high in this species, allowing a set of specialized genotypes to colonize the putting green from native habitats. Successful golf course weeds have been able to adapt to this highly competitive environment by selection acting on traits or genotypes to produce plants more successful in competing with golf course grasses.