Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study provides first evidence of coevolution between invasive, native species

29.06.2012
Invasive species such as kudzu, privet and garlic mustard can devastate ecosystems, and, until now, scientists had little reason to believe that native plants could mount a successful defense.
A new University of Georgia study shows that some native clearweed plants have evolved resistance to invasive garlic mustard plants—and that the invasive plants appear to be waging a counterattack. The study, published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is thought to provide the first evidence of coevolution between native and invasive plant species.

"The implications of this study are encouraging because they show that the native plants aren't taking this invasion lying down," said study author Richard Lankau, assistant professor of plant biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "It suggests that if you were to take a longer view—a timescale of centuries—that exotic species could become integrated into their communities in a way that is less problematic for the natives."

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was introduced to the U.S. from Europe roughly 150 years ago first in New York and Virginia and then to the Chicago area. The noxious plant continues to spread rapidly throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. "It's a pretty well-hated plant," Lankau said, because it can form dense carpets in forest understories and, even after being physically removed from an area, can reestablish itself within a year.

Much of the plant's success is a result of the chemical warfare it wages with a compound known as sinigrin, which kills fungi that help native plants extract nutrients from the soil. The chemical is relatively new to North America, and this novelty gives garlic mustard a huge competitive advantage.

Through a series of greenhouse and field experiments conducted over three years in five states, Lankau has shown that invasive garlic mustard produces more sinigrin in areas where more local plants are present. He found that native clearweed (Pilea pumila) plants, which were chosen for the study because they occupy the same forest understory habitat, show higher levels of resistance to sinigrin in areas where the two species have a longer history of coexistence.

"It looks like the native plants have evolved in response to the traits of the invader," Lankau said.

In addition to transplanting clearweed seeds back to their sites of origin, Lankau also planted them in all of the other study sites and monitored their growth. Each site has its unique soil chemistry and climate, and Lankau said he expected the plants to exhibit a home-field advantage. Instead, he found that native plants resistant to the invader did best in heavily invaded sites, regardless of where they originated. Surprisingly, he found that plants resistant to sinigrin actually did worse than their less-resistant-plant counterparts in areas where there was little or no garlic mustard.

"It's not all good for those populations that are evolving tolerance," Lankau said. "Because they are less successful in the absence of garlic mustard, their resistance to the invasive species comes at a cost."

Taken together, the findings suggest that the native and invasive species could reach equilibrium over a long period of time. Lankau said the study also raises the possibility that humans can help speed the adaptation of ecosystems to invasive species. He explained that removing invasive species and replanting natives often results in failure but replacing invasive species with native plants from an area where the plants have had time to adapt to the invader could be more effective. Rather than replanting clearweed from a recently invaded site in Michigan, for example, land managers could use plants from New York that are more likely to be resistant to garlic mustard.

"When people talk about evolution, it's usually in the past tense," Lankau said. "But one of the important messages from this study is that it's an ongoing process that can happen fast. And this study suggests that we might be able to jumpstart that process through evolutionarily informed management."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Richard Lankau | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uga.edu
http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/coevolution-between-invasive-native-species-062812/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>