High genetic diversity in French invasive populations of common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, as a result of multiple sources of introduction

Authors

  • B. J. GENTON,

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS-UPS-ENGREF 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 360, 91 405 Orsay cedex, France
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  • J. A. SHYKOFF,

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS-UPS-ENGREF 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 360, 91 405 Orsay cedex, France
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  • T. GIRAUD

    1. Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS-UPS-ENGREF 8079, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 360, 91 405 Orsay cedex, France
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Tatiana Giraud, Fax: +33 1 69 15 46 97; E-mail: tatiana.giraud@ese.u-psud.fr

Abstract

Ambrosia artemisiifolia is an aggressive North American annual weed, found particularly in sunflower and corn fields. Besides its economic impact on crop yield, it represents a major health problem because of its strongly allergenic pollen. Ragweed was imported inadvertently to Europe in the 18th century and has become invasive in several countries, notably in the Rhône Valley of France. It has recently expanded in both the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Bourgogne regions. As first steps towards understanding the causes and mechanisms of ragweed invasion, genetic variability of French and North American populations was analysed using microsatellites. Overall genetic variability was similar in North America and in the Rhône-Alpes region, but within-population levels of genetic variability were surprisingly lower in native than in invasive French populations. French populations also exhibited lower among-population differentiation. A significant pattern of isolation by distance was detected among North American populations but not among French populations. Assignment tests and distribution of rare alleles did not point to a single origin for all French populations, nor for all individuals within populations and private alleles from different North American populations were found in the same French populations. Indeed, within all French populations, individual plants were roughly equally assigned to the different North American populations. Altogether, these results suggest that the French invasive populations include plants from a mixture of sources. Reduced diversity in populations distant from the original area of introduction indicated that ragweed range expansion probably occurred through sequential bottlenecks from the original populations, and not from subsequent new introductions.

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