Genetic Variation in Bromus tectorum (Poaceae): Differentiation in the Eastern United States

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Bromus tectorum, a devastating plant invader in western North America, had entered Pennsylvania by 1790. Although rare, or extirpated, in the east until the 1850s, it was collected with increasing frequency after 1859 from Vermont to Virginia. Using enzyme electrophoresis, we analyzed 38 populations of this grass in the eastern U.S. to determine their genetic variation and structure as well as assess their relatedness to populations in the west. Genetic variation among eastern U.S. populations is low: mean number of alleles per locus (A), percent polymorphic loci per population (%P), and expected heterozygosity (Hexp) are 1.01, 1.05%, and 0.002, respectively. No heterozygotes were detected. The eastern populations are genetically similar: mean genetic identity for all populations was 0.990 with values among population pairs ranged from 0.913 to 1.000. Thirteen populations in eastern and western North America shared Pgm-1a and Pgm-2a, while eight populations sharedMdh-2b and Mdh-3b. Other alleles detected in western North America (Got-4c, Got-4d, and Pgi-2b) were not, however, found in eastern U.S. populations. The invasion of North America by B. tectorum occurred through multiple introductions on both coasts; results from historical and genetic evidence suggest that eastern populations stem from a minimum of two introductions. The 19th century westward spread of B. tectorum from the East appears to be plausible.