Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Purple loosestrife: Climate may keep beautiful invasive plant in check

Date:
March 15, 2010
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
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 is an invasive plant.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ellen Morgan

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 and featured in Nature.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Purple loosestrife: Climate may keep beautiful invasive plant in check." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100226115118.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2010, March 15). Purple loosestrife: Climate may keep beautiful invasive plant in check. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100226115118.htm
University of Toronto. "Purple loosestrife: Climate may keep beautiful invasive plant in check." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100226115118.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins