Introduction History and Population Genetics of the Invasive Grass Bromus tectorum (Poaceae) in Canada

Document Type


Publication Date





The invasive annual Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) is distributed in Canada primarily south of 52° N latitude in two diffuse ranges separated by the extensive coniferous forest in western Ontario. The grass was likely introduced independently to eastern and western Canada post-1880. We detected regional variation in the grass's genetic diversity using starch gel electrophoresis to analyze genetic diversity at 25 allozyme loci in 60 populations collected across Canada. The Pgm-1a & Pgm-2a multilocus genotype, which occurs in the grass's native range in Eastern Europe, is prevalent in eastern Canada but occurs at low frequency in western Canada. In contrast, the Got-4c multilocus genotype, found in the native range in Central Europe, is widespread in populations from western Canada. Overall genetic diversity of B. tectorum is much higher in eastern Canada than in the eastern U.S., while the genetic diversity in populations in western North America is similar between Canada and the U.S. The distribution of genetic diversity across Canada strongly suggests multiple introduction events. Heterozygous individuals, which are exceedingly rare in B. tectorum, were detected in three Canadian populations. Formation of novel genotypes through occasional outcrossing events could spark adaptive evolution and further range expansion across Canada of this exceedingly damaging grass.