Low genetic differentiation yet high phenotypic variation in the invasive populations of Spartina alterniflora in Guangxi, China.
Genetic variation and population structure may reflect important information for invasion success of exotic plant species and thus help improve management of invasive plants. Spartina alterniflora is an invasive plant that is a major threat to the economy and environment of the coastal regions in China. We analyzed the genetic structure and diversity of six populations of S. alterniflora differing in invasion histories in Guangxi, China. A total of 176 individuals from the six populations produced 348 AFLP fragments. The average heterozygosity was significantly lower than in the native population. And genetic bottlenecks were also detected in most populations. Standardized FST statistics (Φpt=0.015) and AMOVA results indicated weak genetic differentiation. Genetic admixture and obviously isolation by distance indicated populations in Guangxi come from a pre-admixed population by a single introduction. High phenotypic variations of S. alterniflora in Guangxi influenced by soil salinity and temperature might be an important reason for the successful invasion.