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Keywords:

  • AFLP;
  • biological invasions;
  • chloroplast DNA;
  • introgression;
  • speciation;
  • trnL intron

Abstract

Introgressive hybridization between the invasive Rorippa austriaca and the native R. sylvestris in Germany has been studied using chloroplast DNA (trnL intron) and amplified fragment length polymorphism. Three hybrid zones between the invasive and native species were located in the Ruhr Valley (Mülheim) and at the River Main near Würzburg (Randersacker, Winterhausen). In each hybrid zone hybridization was indicated by additivity of region-specific amplified fragment length polymorphism markers proving independent hybridization events. The hybrids were either morphologically intermediate (R. × armoracioides) or were close to R. sylvestris. The trnL intron of R. austriaca is characterized by a species-specific deletion. This diagnostic chloroplast marker of R. austriaca was detected in three individuals of R. sylvestris providing evidence for introgression of the invasive chloroplast into the native species. Bidirectional introgression of R. austriaca markers into R. sylvestris and of R. sylvestris markers into R. austriaca was detected in the amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis. Some of the invasive R. austriaca populations showed high within-population variation. A possible association among introgression, within-population variation and invasion success is discussed. The morphologically intermediate hybrid R. × armoracioides is currently spreading in northern Germany. It forms large populations without its parent species R. austriaca and R. sylvestris. It is concluded that hybridization between invasive R. austriaca and native R. sylvestris may lead to the evolution of a new invasive species R. × armoracioides.