Navigation Links
Study provides first evidence of coevolution between invasive, native species
Date:6/28/2012

Athens, Ga. Invasive species such as kudzu, privet and garlic mustard can devastate ecosystems, and, until now, scientists had little reason to believe that native plants could mount a successful defense.

A new University of Georgia study shows that some native clearweed plants have evolved resistance to invasive garlic mustard plantsand that the invasive plants appear to be waging a counterattack. The study, published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is thought to provide the first evidence of coevolution between native and invasive plant species.

"The implications of this study are encouraging because they show that the native plants aren't taking this invasion lying down," said study author Richard Lankau, assistant professor of plant biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "It suggests that if you were to take a longer viewa timescale of centuriesthat exotic species could become integrated into their communities in a way that is less problematic for the natives."

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was introduced to the U.S. from Europe roughly 150 years ago first in New York and Virginia and then to the Chicago area. The noxious plant continues to spread rapidly throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. "It's a pretty well-hated plant," Lankau said, because it can form dense carpets in forest understories and, even after being physically removed from an area, can reestablish itself within a year.

Much of the plant's success is a result of the chemical warfare it wages with a compound known as sinigrin, which kills fungi that help native plants extract nutrients from the soil. The chemical is relatively new to North America, and this novelty gives garlic mustard a huge competitive advantage.

Through a series of greenhouse and field experiments conducted over three years in five states, Lankau has shown that invasive garlic mustard produces more sinigrin in areas where more local plants are present. He found that native clearweed (Pilea pumila) plants, which were chosen for the study because they occupy the same forest understory habitat, show higher levels of resistance to sinigrin in areas where the two species have a longer history of coexistence.

"It looks like the native plants have evolved in response to the traits of the invader," Lankau said.

In addition to transplanting clearweed seeds back to their sites of origin, Lankau also planted them in all of the other study sites and monitored their growth. Each site has its unique soil chemistry and climate, and Lankau said he expected the plants to exhibit a home-field advantage. Instead, he found that native plants resistant to the invader did best in heavily invaded sites, regardless of where they originated. Surprisingly, he found that plants resistant to sinigrin actually did worse than their less-resistant-plant counterparts in areas where there was little or no garlic mustard.

"It's not all good for those populations that are evolving tolerance," Lankau said. "Because they are less successful in the absence of garlic mustard, their resistance to the invasive species comes at a cost."

Taken together, the findings suggest that the native and invasive species could reach equilibrium over a long period of time. Lankau said the study also raises the possibility that humans can help speed the adaptation of ecosystems to invasive species. He explained that removing invasive species and replanting natives often results in failure but replacing invasive species with native plants from an area where the plants have had time to adapt to the invader could be more effective. Rather than replanting clearweed from a recently invaded site in Michigan, for example, land managers could use plants from New York that are more likely to be resistant to garlic mustard.

"When people talk about evolution, it's usually in the past tense," Lankau said. "But one of the important messages from this study is that it's an ongoing process that can happen fast. And this study suggests that we might be able to jumpstart that process through evolutionarily informed management."


'/>"/>

Contact: Richard Lankau
ralankau@uga.edu
706-542-1870
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. UCSB scientists compile first study of potential for tsunamis in northwestern California
2. New study demonstrates the role of urban greenery in CO2 exchange
3. UGA study reveals flu-fighting role for well-known immune component
4. UCLA biologists reveal potential fatal flaw in iconic sexual selection study
5. Disappearing grasslands: ASU scientists to study dramatic environmental change
6. First paternity study of southern right whales finds local fathers most successful
7. New study: Snacking on raisins significantly reduces overall post-meal blood sugar levels
8. Discovery increases understanding how bacteria spread: U of A study
9. BUSM study shows role of cellular protein in regulation of binge eating
10. Melting sea ice threatens emperor penguins, study finds
11. Study: No-fat, low-fat dressings dont get most nutrients out of salads
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/31/2016)... R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm ... of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who ... members of the original technical leadership team, including Chief ... President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President ... returned to the company. Dr. Bready served ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... , March 23, 2016 ... erhöhter Sicherheit Gesichts- und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern ... (NASDAQ: MESG ), ein führender ... das Unternehmen mit SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals ... Finanzdienstleistungsbranche, wird die Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... and SANDY, Utah , March ... operates the highest sample volume laboratory in ... and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing informatics and molecular ... of a project to establish the informatics infrastructure for ... NSO has been contracted by the Ontario Ministry ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated to ... medical community, has closed its Series A funding round, ... "We have received a commitment from Forentis ... need to meet our current goals," stated Matthew ... runway to complete validation on the current projects in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Velocity Products, a ... designed, tuned and optimized exclusively for Okuma CNC machining centers at The International ... a collaboration among several companies with expertise in toolholding, cutting tools, machining dynamics ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... June 22, 2016  According to Kalorama Information, ... sequencing (NGS) market include significant efforts in automation ... More accessible and affordable sequencers, say the healthcare ... for consumables including sample prep materials.  The healthcare ... Sample Preparation for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: