In an attempt to delineate the area of origin and migratory expansion of the highly successful invasive weedy species Hypochaeris radicata, we analysed amplified fragment length polymorphisms from samples taken from 44 populations. Population sampling focused on the central and western Mediterranean area, but also included sites from Northern Spain, Western and Central Europe, Southeast Asia and South America. The six primer combinations applied to 213 individuals generated a total of 517 fragments of which 513 (99.2%) were polymorphic. The neighbour-joining tree presented five clusters and these divisions were supported by the results of Bayesian analyses: plants in the Moroccan, Betic Sierras (Southern Spain), and central Mediterranean clusters are all heterocarpic. The north and central Spanish, southwestern Sierra Morena, and Central European, Asian and South American cluster contain both heterocarpic (southwestern Sierra Morena) and homocarpic populations (all other populations). The Doñana cluster includes two homocarpic populations. Analyses of fragment parameters indicate that the oldest populations of H. radicata are located in Morocco and that the species expanded from this area in the Late Quaternary via at least three migratory routes, the earliest of which seems to have been to the southwestern Iberian Peninsula, with subsequent colonizations to the central Mediterranean area and the Betic Sierras. Homocarpic populations originated in the southwestern Iberian Peninsula and subsequently spread across north and central Spain, Central Europe and worldwide, where they became a highly successful weed.
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