Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Regional differences in clonal Japanese knotweed revealed by chemometrics-linked attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy.

Abstract

Background: Japanese knotweed (R. japonica var japonica) is one of the world's 100 worst invasive species, causing crop losses, damage to infrastructure, and erosion of ecosystem services. In the UK, this species is an all-female clone, which spreads by vegetative reproduction. Despite this genetic continuity, Japanese knotweed can colonise a wide variety of environmental habitats. However, little is known about the phenotypic plasticity responsible for the ability of Japanese knotweed to invade and thrive in such diverse habitats. We have used attenuated total reflection Fouriertransform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy, in which the spectral fingerprint generated allows subtle differences in composition to be clearly visualized, to examine regional differences in clonal Japanese knotweed. Results: We have shown distinct differences in the spectral fingerprint region (1800-900 cm-1) of Japanese knotweed from three different regions in the UK that were sufficient to successfully identify plants from different geographical regions with high accuracy using support vector machine (SVM) chemometrics. Conclusions: These differences were not correlated with environmental variations between regions, raising the possibility that epigenetic modifications may contribute to the phenotypic plasticity responsible for the ability of R. japonica to invade and thrive in such diverse habitats.