Evaluation of six candidate DNA barcode loci for identification of five important invasive grasses in eastern Australia.
ABSTRACT: Invasive grass weeds reduce farm productivity, threaten biodiversity, and increase weed control costs. Identification of invasive grasses from native grasses has generally relied on the morphological examination of grass floral material. DNA barcoding may provide an alternative means to identify co-occurring native and invasive grasses, particularly during early growth stages when floral characters are unavailable for analysis. However, there are no universal loci available for grass barcoding. We herein evaluated the utility of six candidate loci (atpF intron, matK, ndhK-ndhC, psbE-petL, ETS and ITS) for barcode identification of several economically important invasive grass species frequently found among native grasses in eastern Australia. We evaluated these loci in 66 specimens representing five invasive grass species (Chloris gayana, Eragrostis curvula, Hyparrhenia hirta, Nassella neesiana, Nassella trichotoma) and seven native grass species. Our results indicated that, while no single locus can be universally used as a DNA barcode for distinguishing the grass species examined in this study, two plastid loci (atpF and matK) showed good distinguishing power to separate most of the taxa examined, and could be used as a dual locus to distinguish several of the invasive from the native species. Low PCR success rates were evidenced among two nuclear loci (ETS and ITS), and few species were amplified at these loci, however ETS was able to genetically distinguish the two important invasive Nassella species. Multiple loci analyses also suggested that ETS played a crucial role in allowing identification of the two Nassella species in the multiple loci combinations.
Project description:Accurate identification of Arctic plant species is critical for understanding potential climate-induced changes in their diversity and distributions. To facilitate rapid identification we generated DNA barcodes for the core plastid barcode loci (rbcL and matK) for 490 vascular plant species, representing nearly half of the Canadian Arctic flora and 93% of the flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Sequence recovery was higher for rbcL than matK (93% and 81%), and rbcL was easier to recover than matK from herbarium specimens (92% and 77%). Distance-based and sequence-similarity analyses of combined rbcL + matK data discriminate 97% of genera, 56% of species, and 7% of infraspecific taxa. There is a significant negative correlation between the number of species sampled per genus and the percent species resolution per genus. We characterize barcode variation in detail in the ten largest genera sampled (Carex, Draba, Festuca, Pedicularis, Poa, Potentilla, Puccinellia, Ranunculus, Salix, and Saxifraga) in the context of their phylogenetic relationships and taxonomy. Discrimination with the core barcode loci in these genera ranges from 0% in Salix to 85% in Carex. Haplotype variation in multiple genera does not correspond to species boundaries, including Taraxacum, in which the distribution of plastid haplotypes among Arctic species is consistent with plastid variation documented in non-Arctic species. Introgression of Poa glauca plastid DNA into multiple individuals of P. hartzii is problematic for identification of these species with DNA barcodes. Of three supplementary barcode loci (psbA-trnH, psbK-psbI, atpF-atpH) collected for a subset of Poa and Puccinellia species, only atpF-atpH improved discrimination in Puccinellia, compared with rbcL and matK. Variation in matK in Vaccinium uliginosum and rbcL in Saxifraga oppositifolia corresponds to variation in other loci used to characterize the phylogeographic histories of these Arctic-alpine species.
Project description:Harsh habitats dominated by invasive species are difficult to restore. Invasive grasses in arid environments slow succession toward more desired composition, yet grass removal exacerbates high light and temperature, making the use of "nurse plants" an appealing strategy. In this study of degraded subtropical woodlands dominated by alien grasses in Hawai'i, we evaluated whether individuals of two native (Dodonaea viscosa, Leptocophylla tameiameia) and one non-native (Morella faya) woody species (1) act as natural nodes of recruitment for native woody species and (2) can be used to enhance survivorship of outplanted native woody species. To address these questions, we quantified the presence and persistence of seedlings naturally recruiting beneath adult nurse shrubs and compared survival and growth of experimentally outplanted seedlings of seven native woody species under the nurse species compared to intact and cleared alien-grass plots. We found that the two native nurse shrubs recruit their own offspring, but do not act as establishment nodes for other species. Morella faya recruited even fewer seedlings than native shrubs. Thus, outplanting will be necessary to increase abundance and diversity of native woody species. Outplant survival was the highest under shrubs compared to away from them with few differences between nurse species. The worst habitat for native seedling survival and growth was within the unmanaged invasive grass matrix. Although the two native nurse species did not differentially affect outplant survival, D. viscosa is the most widespread and easily propagated and is thus more likely to be useful as an initial nurse species. The outplanted species showed variable responses to nurse habitats that we attribute to resource requirements resulting from their typical successional stage and nitrogen fixation capability.
Project description:The presence of native grasses in communities can suppress native forbs through competition and indirectly benefit these forbs by suppressing the invasion of highly competitive exotic species. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to examine the potential of direct and indirect interactions to influence the aboveground biomass of four native forb species in the presence of the native perennial grass Schizachyrium scoparium and exotic invasive Lespedeza cuneata. We examined patterns of growth for the invasive legume, the perennial grass, and four native species in four scenarios: 1) native species grown with the grass, 2) native species grown with the legume, 3) native species grown with both the grass and legume together, and 4) native species grown alone. Schizachyrium scoparium significantly decreased biomass of all forb species (p<0.05). In contrast, L. cuneata alone only significantly affected biomass of Asclepias tuberosa; L. cuneata increased the biomass of A. tuberosa only when the grass was present. When S. scoparium and L. cuneata were grown together, L. cuneata had significantly lower biomass (p = 0.007) and S. scoparium had significantly greater biomass (p = 0.002) than when each grew alone. These reciprocal effects suggest a potential pathway by which L. cuneata could alter forb diversity in grassland communities In this scenario, L. cuneata facilitates grass growth and competition with other natives. Our results emphasize the importance of monitoring interactions between exotic invasive plant species and dominant native species in grassland communities to understand pathways of plant community change.
Project description:The plant DNA barcoding is a complex and requires more than one marker(s) as compared to animal barcoding. Mangroves are diverse estuarine ecosystem prevalent in the tropical and subtropical zone, but anthropogenic activity turned them into the vulnerable ecosystem. There is a need to build a molecular reference library of mangrove plant species based on molecular barcode marker along with morphological characteristics. In this study, we tested the core plant barcode (rbcL and matK) and four promising complementary barcodes (ITS2, psbK-psbI, rpoC1 and atpF-atpH) in 14 mangroves species belonging to 5 families from West Coast India. Data analysis was performed based on barcode gap analysis, intra- and inter-specific genetic distance, Automated Barcode Gap Discovery (ABGD), TaxonDNA (BM, BCM), Poisson Tree Processes (PTP) and General Mixed Yule-coalescent (GMYC). matK+ITS2 marker based on GMYC method resolved 57.14% of mangroves species and TaxonDNA, ABGD, and PTP discriminated 42.85% of mangrove species. With a single locus analysis, ITS2 exhibited the higher discriminatory power (87.82%) and combinations of matK + ITS2 provided the highest discrimination success (89.74%) rate except for Avicennia genus. Further, we explored 3 additional markers (psbK-psbI, rpoC1, and atpF-atpH) for Avicennia genera (A. alba, A. officinalis and A. marina) and atpF-atpH locus was able to discriminate three species of Avicennia genera. Our analysis underscored the efficacy of matK + ITS2 markers along with atpF-atpH as the best combination for mangrove identification in West Coast India regions.
Project description:Primary production in deserts is limited by soil moisture and N availability, and thus is likely to be influenced by both anthropogenic N deposition and precipitation regimes altered as a consequence of climate change. Invasive annual grasses are particularly responsive to increases in N and water availabilities, which may result in competition with native forb communities. Additionally, conditions favoring increased invasive grass production in arid and semi-arid regions can increase fire risk, negatively impacting woody vegetation that is not adapted to fire. We conducted a seeded garden experiment and a 5-year field fertilization experiment to investigate how winter annual production is altered by increasing N supply under a range of water availabilities. The greatest production of invasive grasses and native forbs in the garden experiment occurred under the highest soil N (inorganic N after fertilization = 2.99 g m(-2)) and highest watering regime, indicating these species are limited by both water and N. A classification and regression tree (CART) analysis on the multi-year field fertilization study showed that winter annual biomass was primarily limited by November-December precipitation. Biomass exceeded the threshold capable of carrying fire when inorganic soil N availability was at least 3.2 g m(-2) in piñon-juniper woodland. Due to water limitation in creosote bush scrub, biomass exceeded the fire threshold only under very wet conditions regardless of soil N status. The CART analyses also revealed that percent cover of invasive grasses and native forbs is primarily dependent on the timing and amount of precipitation and secondarily dependent on soil N and site-specific characteristics. In total, our results indicate that areas of high N deposition will be susceptible to grass invasion, particularly in wet years, potentially reducing native species cover and increasing the risk of fire.
Project description:Fire-prone invasive grasses create novel ecosystem threats by increasing fine-fuel loads and continuity, which can alter fire regimes. While the existence of an invasive grass-fire cycle is well known, evidence of altered fire regimes is typically based on local-scale studies or expert knowledge. Here, we quantify the effects of 12 nonnative, invasive grasses on fire occurrence, size, and frequency across 29 US ecoregions encompassing more than one third of the conterminous United States. These 12 grass species promote fire locally and have extensive spatial records of abundant infestations. We combined agency and satellite fire data with records of abundant grass invasion to test for differences in fire regimes between invaded and nearby "uninvaded" habitat. Additionally, we assessed whether invasive grass presence is a significant predictor of altered fire by modeling fire occurrence, size, and frequency as a function of grass invasion, in addition to anthropogenic and ecological covariates relevant to fire. Eight species showed significantly higher fire-occurrence rates, which more than tripled for Schismus barbatus and Pennisetum ciliare. Six species demonstrated significantly higher mean fire frequency, which more than doubled for Neyraudia reynaudiana and Pennisetum ciliare Grass invasion was significant in fire occurrence and frequency models, but not in fire-size models. The significant differences in fire regimes, coupled with the importance of grass invasion in modeling these differences, suggest that invasive grasses alter US fire regimes at regional scales. As concern about US wildfires grows, accounting for fire-promoting invasive grasses will be imperative for effectively managing ecosystems.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Grasslands are widespread ecosystems that fulfil many functions. Plant species richness (PSR) is known to have beneficial effects on such functions and monitoring PSR is crucial for tracking the effects of land use and agricultural management on these ecosystems. Unfortunately, traditional morphology-based methods are labor-intensive and cannot be adapted for high-throughput assessments. DNA barcoding could aid increasing the throughput of PSR assessments in grasslands. In this proof-of-concept work, we aimed at determining which of three plant DNA barcodes (rbcLa, matK and trnH-psbA) best discriminates 16 key grass and legume species common in temperate sub-alpine grasslands. RESULTS:Barcode trnH-psbA had a 100% correct assignment rate (CAR) in the five analyzed legumes, followed by rbcLa (93.3%) and matK (55.6%). Barcode trnH-psbA had a 100% CAR in the grasses Cynosurus cristatus, Dactylis glomerata and Trisetum flavescens. However, the closely related Festuca, Lolium and Poa species were not always correctly identified, which led to an overall CAR in grasses of 66.7%, 50.0% and 46.4% for trnH-psbA, matK and rbcLa, respectively. Barcode trnH-psbA is thus the most promising candidate for PSR assessments in permanent grasslands and could greatly support plant biodiversity monitoring on a larger scale.
Project description:Perennial grasses are promising candidates for bioenergy crops, but species that can escape cultivation and establish self-sustaining naturalized populations (feral) may have the potential to become invasive. Fertile Miscanthus × giganteus, known as "PowerCane," is a new potential biofuel crop. Its parent species are ornamental, non-native Miscanthus species that establish feral populations and are sometimes invasive in the USA. As a first step toward assessing the potential for "PowerCane" to become invasive, we documented its growth and fecundity relative to one of its parent species (Miscanthus sinensis) in competition with native and invasive grasses in common garden experiments located in Columbus, Ohio and Ames, Iowa, within the targeted range of biofuel cultivation. We conducted a 2-year experiment to compare growth and reproduction among three Miscanthus biotypes-"PowerCane," ornamental M. sinensis, and feral M. sinensis-at two locations. Single Miscanthus plants were subjected to competition with a native grass (Panicum virgatum), a weedy grass (Bromus inermis), or no competition. Response variables were aboveground biomass, number of shoots, basal area, and seed set. In Iowa, all Miscanthus plants died after the first winter, which was unusually cold, so no further results are reported from the Iowa site. In Ohio, we found significant differences among biotypes in growth and fecundity, as well as significant effects of competition. Interactions between these treatments were not significant. "PowerCane" performed as well or better than ornamental or feral M. sinensis in vegetative traits, but had much lower seed production, perhaps due to pollen limitation. In general, ornamental M. sinensis performed somewhat better than feral M. sinensis. Our findings suggest that feral populations of "PowerCane" could become established adjacent to biofuel production areas. Fertile Miscanthus × giganteus should be studied further to assess its potential to spread via seed production in large, sexually compatible populations.
Project description:Invasions by non-native plants can alter ecosystem functions and reduce native plant diversity, but relatively little is known about their effect on belowground microbial communities. We show that invasions by knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) and leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula, hereafter spurge)--but not cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)--support a higher abundance and diversity of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) than multi-species native plant communities. The higher AMF richness associated with knapweed and spurge is unlikely due to a co-invasion by AMF, because a separate sampling showed that individual native forbs hosted a similar AMF abundance and richness as exotic forbs. Native grasses associated with fewer AMF taxa, which could explain the reduced AMF richness in native, grass-dominated communities. The three invasive plant species harbored distinct AMF communities, and analyses of co-occurring native and invasive plants indicate that differences were partly driven by the invasive plants and were not the result of pre-invasion conditions. Our results suggest that invasions by mycotrophic plants that replace poorer hosts can increase AMF abundance and richness. The high AMF richness in monodominant plant invasions also indicates that the proposed positive relationship between above and belowground diversity is not always strong. Finally, the disparate responses among exotic plants and consistent results between grasses and forbs suggest that AMF respond more to plant functional group than plant provenance.
Project description:Invasion by exotic grasses is a severe threat to the integrity of grassland ecosystems all over the world. Because grasslands are typically grazed by livestock and wildlife, the invasion is a community process modulated by herbivory. We hypothesized that the invasion of native South American grasslands by Eragrostis plana Nees, an exotic tussock-forming grass from Africa, could be deterred by grazing if grazers switched dietary preferences and included the invasive grass as a large proportion of their diets. Bos taurus (heifers) and Ovis aries (ewes) grazed plots with varying degrees of invasion by E. plana in a replicated manipulative experiment. Animal positions and species grazed were observed every minute in 45-min grazing session. Proportion of bites and steps in and out of E. plana tussocks were measured and used to calculate several indices of selectivity. Both heifers and ewes exhibited increasing probability of grazing E. plana as the proportion of area covered by tussocks increased, but they behaved differently. In agreement with expectations based on the allometry of dietary preferences and morphology, ewes consumed a low proportion of E. plana, except in areas that had more than 90% E. plana cover. Heifers consumed proportionally more E. plana than ewes. Contrary to our hypothesis, herbivores did not exhibit dietary switching towards the invasive grass. Moreover, they exhibited avoidance of the invasive grass and preference for short-statured native species, both of which should tend to enhance invasion. Unless invasive plants are highly palatable to livestock, the effect of grazing to deter the invasion is limited, due to the inherent avoidance of the invasive grass by the main grazers in the ecosystem, particularly sheep.