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Trait evolution during a rapid global weed invasion despite little genetic differentiation

Irimia, Ramona E.; Montesinos, Daniel; Chaturvedi, Anurag; Sanders, Ian; Hierro, José L.; Sotes, Gastón; Cavieres, Lohengrin A.; Eren, Özkan; Lortie, Christopher J.; French, Kristine; Brennan, Adrian Christopher

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Ramona E. Irimia

Daniel Montesinos

Anurag Chaturvedi

Ian Sanders

José L. Hierro

Gastón Sotes

Lohengrin A. Cavieres

Özkan Eren

Christopher J. Lortie

Kristine French


Invasive species often possess a great capacity to adapt to novel environments in the form of spatial trait variation, as a result of varying selection regimes, genetic drift, or plasticity. We explored the geographic differentiation in several phenotypic traits related to plant growth, reproduction, and defense in the highly invasive Centaurea solstitialis by measuring neutral genetic differentiation (FST), and comparing it with phenotypic differentiation (PST), in a common garden experiment in individuals originating from regions representing the species distribution across five continents. Native plants were more fecund than non-native plants, but the latter displayed considerably larger seed mass. We found indication of divergent selection for these two reproductive traits but little overall genetic differentiation between native and non-native ranges. The native versus invasive PST–FST comparisons demonstrated that, in several invasive regions, seed mass had increased proportionally more than the genetic differentiation. Traits displayed different associations with climate variables in different regions. Both capitula numbers and seed mass were associated with winter temperature and precipitation and summer aridity in some regions. Overall, our study suggests that rapid evolution has accompanied invasive success of C. solstitialis and provides new insights into traits and their genetic bases that can contribute to fitness advantages in non-native populations.


Irimia, R. E., Montesinos, D., Chaturvedi, A., Sanders, I., Hierro, J. L., Sotes, G., …Brennan, A. C. (2023). Trait evolution during a rapid global weed invasion despite little genetic differentiation. Evolutionary Applications,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2023
Online Publication Date Apr 18, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date May 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 9, 2023
Journal Evolutionary Applications
Print ISSN 1752-4563
Electronic ISSN 1752-4571
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed


Published Journal Article (2.7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
&copy; 2023 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by John Wiley &amp; Sons Ltd.<br /> <br /> This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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