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Natural selection enables purple loosestrife to invade northern Ontario
Date:10/19/2013

Virginia relative to plants collected from southern latitudes.

The team's previous work showed that northern populations flower about 20 days earlier but at half the size of southern populations when both were grown in the same 'common garden' experiment. They wondered whether these genetic differences could account for the observation of locally adapted populations. So in the next phase of the research, they directly measured Darwinian natural selection on flowering time at each of the common garden sites. They found that early flowering was adaptive at the most northern site, because early-flowering plants produced the most offspring while plants with delayed flowering began reproduction near the end of the growing season, when pollinators were scarce and flowers were prone to frost damage. But later flowering was favoured by natural selection at more southern sites because delayed reproduction allowed plants to grow larger and produce more seeds when the growing season is longer. Remarkably these differences have evolved over the past 50 years as the species moved northwards, following its initial introduction to the east coast of the USA.


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Contact: Kim Luke
kim.luke@utoronto.ca
416-978-4352
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert  

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