Journal Article

The more the better? The role of polyploidy in facilitating plant invasions

Mariska te Beest, Johannes J. Le Roux, David M. Richardson, Anne K. Brysting, Jan Suda, Magdalena Kubešová and Petr Pyšek

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 1, pages 19-45
Published in print January 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr277
The more the better? The role of polyploidy in facilitating plant invasions

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Background

Biological invasions are a major ecological and socio-economic problem in many parts of the world. Despite an explosion of research in recent decades, much remains to be understood about why some species become invasive whereas others do not. Recently, polyploidy (whole genome duplication) has been proposed as an important determinant of invasiveness in plants. Genome duplication has played a major role in plant evolution and can drastically alter a plant's genetic make-up, morphology, physiology and ecology within only one or a few generations. This may allow some polyploids to succeed in strongly fluctuating environments and/or effectively colonize new habitats and, thus, increase their potential to be invasive.

Scope

We synthesize current knowledge on the importance of polyploidy for the invasion (i.e. spread) of introduced plants. We first aim to elucidate general mechanisms that are involved in the success of polyploid plants and translate this to that of plant invaders. Secondly, we provide an overview of ploidal levels in selected invasive alien plants and explain how ploidy might have contributed to their success.

Conclusions

Polyploidy can be an important factor in species invasion success through a combination of (1) ‘pre-adaptation’, whereby polyploid lineages are predisposed to conditions in the new range and, therefore, have higher survival rates and fitness in the earliest establishment phase; and (2) the possibility for subsequent adaptation due to a larger genetic diversity that may assist the ‘evolution of invasiveness’. Alternatively, polyploidization may play an important role by (3) restoring sexual reproduction following hybridization or, conversely, (4) asexual reproduction in the absence of suitable mates. We, therefore, encourage invasion biologists to incorporate assessments of ploidy in their studies of invasive alien species.

Keywords: Biological invasions; genome size; invasiveness; invasion ecology; polyploidy; whole genome duplication

Journal Article.  21460 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.