Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.) and lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album L.) populations exhibit a high degree of morphological and biochemical diversity.
Amaranthus retroflexus L. and Chenopodium album L. are noxious weeds that have a cosmopolitan distribution. These species successfully invade and are adapted to a wide variety of diverse climates. In this paper, we evaluated the morphology and biochemistry of 16 populations of A. retroflexus L. and 17 populations of C. album L. Seeds from populations collected from Spain, France, and Iran were grown together at the experimental field of the agriculture research of University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, and a suite of morphological traits and biochemical traits were assessed. Among the populations of A. retroflexus L. and of C. album L. were observed significant differences for all the measured traits. The number of branches (BN) for A. retroflexus L. (12.22) and inflorescence length (FL; 14.34) for C. album L. were the two characteristics that exhibited the maximum coefficient of variation. Principal component analysis of these data identified four principal components for each species that explained 83.54 (A. retroflexus L.) and 88.98 (C. album L.) of the total variation. A dendrogram based on unweighted neighbor-joining method clustered all the A. retroflexus L. and C. album L. into two main clusters and four sub-clusters. Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was used to evaluate relationships between climate classification of origin and traits. Similarly, the measured characteristics did not group along Köppen climate classification. Both analyses support the conclusion that A. retroflexus L. and C. album L. exhibit high levels of diversity despite similar environmental histories. Both species also exhibit a high diversity of the measured biochemical compounds indicating that they exhibit different metabolic profiles even when grown concurrently and sympatrically. Several of the biochemical constituents identified in our study could serve as effective indices for indirect selection of stresses resistance/tolerance of A. retroflexus L. and C. album L. The diversity of the morphological and biochemical traits observed among these populations illustrates how the unique selection pressures faced by each population can alter the biology of these plants. This understanding provides new insights to how these invasive plant species successfully colonize diverse ecosystems and suggests methods for their management under novel and changing environmental conditions.