Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The invasive plant Solidago canadensis exhibits partial local adaptation to low salinity at germination but not at later life-history stages.

Abstract

Premise: Evolutionary adaptation may enable plants to inhabit a broad range of environments. However, germination and early life-history stages have seldom been considered in estimates of evolutionary adaptation. Moreover, whether soil microbial communities can influence evolutionary adaptation in plants remains little explored. Methods: We used reciprocal transplant experiments to investigate whether two populations of an invasive plant Solidago canadensis that occur in contrasting habitats of low versus high salinity expressed adaptation to the respective salinity levels. We germinated S. canadensis seeds collected from low-and high-salinity habitats under low- and high-salt treatments. We also raised S. canadensis seedlings from the two salinity habitats under low- and high-salt treatments and in the presence versus absence of microbial communities from the two habitats. Results: Genotypes from a low-salinity habitat had higher germination rates under low-salt treatment than genotypes from a high-salinity habitat. However, both genotypes had similar germination rates under a high-salt treatment. The two genotypes also had similar seedling survival and biomass responses to low- and high-salt treatments. Nevertheless, seedling biomass was significantly higher under low salt treatment. Soil microbial communities did not influence biomass of S. canadensis under the two salt treatments. Conclusions: The results on germination rates suggest partial local adaptation to low salinity. However, there was no evidence of local adaptation to salinity at the seedling survival and growth stages. The finding that germination and seedling biomass responded to different salt treatments suggests that the two traits are important for salt tolerance.