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Assessing genetic diversity and phenotypic plasticity in Cirsium arvense: evaluation with greenhouse trials and ISSR




Gaines, Todd A., author
Brown, Cynthia S., author
Hufbauer, Ruth A., author

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Invasive plant species cause damage to ecosystems and economic loss to land managers. One particularly invasive plant species is Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). This plant is very difficult to control and is a successful invader in many diverse ecosystems, including cropping systems and non-cultivated lands. If C. arvense is successful because it has adapted genetically to new environments, then these differences may be quantified using experimental observations. The objective of this project is to quantify genetic diversity and site-specific genetic differentiation based on phenotypic responses in common garden trials. Canada thistle specimens from crop and non-crop habitats in two different biogeographic regions of Colorado were used. A second objective is to correlate data from genetic markers with phenotypic data to further quantify genetic diversity in specimens from crop and non-crop habitats in three different regions of Colorado. The greenhouse experiments compared the phenotypic responses of the collected plants to variations in soil fertility and water stress. Leaf tissue DNA collected from the sites was amplified with the inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) method and the resulting banding patterns were analyzed for genetic variation. Data from the greenhouse trials indicate a greater response to treatments only in Larimer County non-crop populations. Data from genetic analyses indicate a high level of diversity in the sampled genomes. These data are consistent with the invasive characteristics of C. arvense but indicate that Colorado populations have not genetically differentiated within the sampled ecosystems. More study is warranted to further investigate this question.


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Canada thistle -- Adaptation
Noxious weeds -- Adaptation
Genotype-environment interaction


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