Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Wild Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) in Argentina: Reconstructing Its Invasion History


Studying the levels and patterns of genetic diversity of invasive populations is important to understand the evolutionary and ecological factors promoting invasions and for better designing preventive and control strategies. Wild sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is native to North America and was introduced, and has become invasive, in several countries, including Argentina (ARG). Here, using classical population genetic analyses and approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) modeling, we studied the invasion history of wild sunflower in ARG. We analyzed 115 individuals belonging to 15 populations from ARG (invasive range) and United States (US, native range) at 14 nuclear and 3 chloroplast simple sequence repeat markers along with 23 phenotypic variables. Populations from ARG showed similar levels of nuclear genetic diversity to US populations and higher genetic diversity in the chloroplast genome, indicating no severe genetic bottlenecks during the invasion process. Bayesian clustering analysis, based on nuclear markers, suggests the presence of 3 genetic clusters, all present in both US and ARG. Discriminant analysis of principal components (DAPC) detected an overall low population structure between central US and ARG populations but separated 2 invasive populations from the rest. ABC modeling supports multiple introductions but also a southward dispersal within ARG. Genetic and phenotypic data support the central US as a source of introduction while the source of secondary introductions could not be resolved. Finally, using genetic markers from the chloroplast genome, we found lower population structure in ARG when compared with US populations, suggesting a role for seed-mediated gene flow in Argentina.

Publication Title

Journal of Heredity