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Evolution. 2011 Sep;65(9):2514-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01313.x. Epub 2011 May 3.

Population divergence along lines of genetic variance and covariance in the invasive plant Lythrum salicaria in eastern North America.

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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks St. Toronto, Ontario M5S 3B2, Canada.


Evolution during biological invasion may occur over contemporary timescales, but the rate of evolutionary change may be inhibited by a lack of standing genetic variation for ecologically relevant traits and by fitness trade-offs among them. The extent to which these genetic constraints limit the evolution of local adaptation during biological invasion has rarely been examined. To investigate genetic constraints on life-history traits, we measured standing genetic variance and covariance in 20 populations of the invasive plant purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) sampled along a latitudinal climatic gradient in eastern North America and grown under uniform conditions in a glasshouse. Genetic variances within and among populations were significant for all traits; however, strong intercorrelations among measurements of seedling growth rate, time to reproductive maturity and adult size suggested that fitness trade-offs have constrained population divergence. Evidence to support this hypothesis was obtained from the genetic variance-covariance matrix (G) and the matrix of (co)variance among population means (D), which were 79.8% (95% C.I. 77.7-82.9%) similar. These results suggest that population divergence during invasive spread of L. salicaria in eastern North America has been constrained by strong genetic correlations among life-history traits, despite large amounts of standing genetic variation for individual traits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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