The flowering plant - purple loosestrife - has been heading north since it was first introduced from Europe to the eastern seaboard 150 years ago. This exotic invader chokes out native species and has dramatically altered wetland habitats in North America. But it turns out it may have a vulnerability after all: the northern climate. Canadian scientists have found that adapting to the Great White North carries a severe reproductive penalty that may limit its spread.
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) destroys wildlife habitats by displacing native vegetation that provides food, shelter, and breeding areas for wildlife. In urban areas, it invades ditches where it can block or disrupt water flow. It has few pests and diseases, resists various control methods, and plants can produce as many as 3 million seeds a year.
But as this invasive plant has spread north it has run into challenges posed by a shorter growing season, according to a study conducted by Robert Colautti, who recently obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Ecology. The results are published online this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series B (https://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/firstcit) and featured in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7284/full/4631002e.html).
The authors used modeling and experimental studies of 20 purple loosestrife populations along a 1200 km latitudinal gradient from Maryland to Timmins, Ontario, representing a one-month difference in growing season. They found that northern populations have become locally adapted and flower earlier in response to a shorter growing season. However, early flowering plants suffer a cost in terms of smaller size and reduced seed production. The reason: a genetic constraint.
"Genes that cause early flowering also reduce plant size, so early flowering and small size evolve together," says Colautti. "Smaller size results in lower seed production, which is likely to limit the spread of purple loosestrife in northern regions."
Co-authors of the study are Colautti's supervisor Professor Spencer Barrett of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Christopher Eckert of Queen's University. The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and a Premier's Discovery Award from the Ontario Government.
MEDIA CONTACTS:Robert Colautti
Kim Luke | EurekAlert!
Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering