What makes an invasive species?

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Published on: March 12, 2013
B. sylvaticum seeds

Brachypodium sylvaticum is a grass species known as slender false brome, and is native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa. It is a common sight in UK woodlands, and grows all over the country. In the USA though, its tufts don’t mark convenient picnic spots in woodland but are destroyed if seen in a new region because this invasive species has colonised miles of Oregon’s woodland floor. An Oregon-based research team has sequenced the B. sylvaticum transcriptome and hopes to use it as a mode for the evolution of invasive species.

Highlighted paper: Samuel E. Fox, Justin Preece, Jeffrey A. Kimbrel, Gina L. Marchini, Abigail Sage, Ken Youens-Clark, Mitchell B. Cruzan, and Pankaj Jaiswal 2013. Sequencing and De Novo Transcriptome Assembly of Brachypodium sylvaticum (Poaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 1: 1200011

Slender false broom was widely planted in the in the mid part of the 20th century in an attempt to seed mountain rangelands in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. It was also planted in experimental gardens in two Oregon cities. The two attempts to establish the species were independent, but microsatellite analysis suggests the plants originated from the samestock of accessions. At some point in the late 20th century, some of these accessions crossed and the hybrids spread rapidly across Oregon’s forests (Rosenthal et al. 2008, Mol Ecol 17:4657). Today in Oregon this aggressive genotypes have formed thick monocultures that completely cover the forest floor at the expense of native flora, and have spread to California and Washington too. (more…)

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