The population genetics of the fundamental cytotype-shift in invasive Centaurea stoebe s.l.: genetic diversity, genetic differentiation and small-scale genetic structure differ between cytotypes but not between ranges
Invasive species' success may depend strongly on the genetic resources they maintain through the invasion process. We ask how many introductions have occurred in the North American weed Centaurea stoebe micranthos (Asteraceae), and explore whether genetic diversity and population structure have changed as a result of introduction. We surveyed individuals from 15 European native range sites and 11 North American introduced range sites at six polymorphic microsatellite loci. No significant difference existed in the total number of alleles or in the number of private alleles found in each range. Shannon-Weaver diversity of phenotype frequencies was also not significantly different between the ranges, while expected heterozygosity was significantly higher in the invasive range. Population structure was similar between the native range and the invasive range, and isolation by distance was not significant in either range. Traditional assignment methods did not allocate any North American individuals to the sampled European populations, while Bayesian assignment methods grouped individuals into nine genetic clusters, with three of them shared between North America and Europe. Invasive individuals tended to have genetically admixed profiles, while natives tended to assign more strongly to a single cluster. Many North American individuals share assignment with Romania and Bulgaria, suggesting two separate invasions that have undergone gene flow in North America. Samples from three other invasive range sites were genetically distinct, possibly representing three other unique introductions. Multiple introductions and the maintenance of high genetic diversity through the introduction process may be partially responsible for the invasive success of C. stoebe micranthos.