Uncovering the phylogeography of Schinus terebinthifolia in South Africa to guide biological control.
Schinus terebinthifolia is a problematic invasive alien plant (IAP) in South Africa that is a high priority target for biological control. Biological control has been implemented in the states of Florida and Hawaii (USA), where S. terebinthifolia is also an IAP. Phylogeographic work determined that there have been multiple introductions of two lineages (haplotype A and B) into the USA. Haplotype A was introduced to western Florida and Hawaii, while haplotype B was introduced to eastern Florida. Haplotypes A and B have subsequently hybridized in Florida, resulting in novel plant genotypes. Biological control agents in the USA are known to vary in efficacies on the two different haplotypes and hybrids. This study used molecular techniques to uncover the source populations of S. terebinthifolia in South Africa using chloroplast DNA and microsatellites. Populations from the introduced ranges in Florida (east, west and hybrids) and Hawaii were included (n = 95). All South Africa populations (n = 51) were found to be haplotype A. Microsatellite analysis determined shared alleles with western Florida and Hawaiian populations. The likely source of South African S. terebinthifolia was determined to be western Florida through the horticultural trade. These results will help guide a biological control programme to source agents that perform well on these populations in the USA. Furthermore, the presence of only one haplotype in South Africa highlights the need to ensure no further introductions of other haplotypes of the plant are made, in order to avoid similar hybridization events like those recorded in Florida.