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Phenotypic variability and genetic diversity of phragmites Australis in Quebec and Kashmir reveal contrasting population structure

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The origin of differences in traits influencing competitive success between invasive and native wild populations of alien species is subject of debate. Herbarium-based information sources from 2005 onwards about nativity and distributional range of Phragmites australis were used to survey putative native populations of the species in Quebec, and chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) PCRRFLP analyses identified only one native population, whereas the same analyses revealed that the Kashmir populations are invasive. We compared the native population of P. australis in Quebec (QN), ten populations invasive to Quebec (QE), and five populations invasive in Kashmir, India (KE) using morphometric traits. Using nine cpDNA microsatellite loci, we also compared nine KE populations, ten QE populations, and the QN population. Phenotypic variation was observed among and within populations. Only dry mass of flowers varied across regions. Characterization of morphotypes defined three distinct haplotypes. A bimodal distribution of stem diameter (SD), internode length (IL), leaf length (LL), and leaf width (LW) suggests that a major gene may control growth traits or occurrence of co-selection. High genetic differentiation was observed between populations (RST = 0.353) and haplotypes (RST = 0.133 to 0.418), indicating limited gene flow and probable local adaptation. Principal coordinates analysis and the neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree clearly distinguished the three haplotypes. Among-populations phenotypic difference (PST) was lower than overall RST for plant height, SD, and fresh and dry mass of flowers and seeds, whereas PST estimates for LL and LW exceeded among-populations RST, suggesting divergent selection, while local adaptation might have occurred in IL, LL, and flower masses. Genetic drift probably influenced among-populations IL differences. © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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