Heterogeneity of clonal patterns among patches of kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, an invasive plant.

Annals of botany

PubMedID: 26229064

Kartzinel TR, Hamrick JL, Wang C, Bowsher AW, Quigley BG. Heterogeneity of clonal patterns among patches of kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, an invasive plant. Ann Bot. 2015;.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Viny species are among the most serious invasive plants, and better knowledge of how vines grow to dominate landscapes is needed. Patches may contain a single genotype (i.e. genet), a competitively dominant genet or many independent but interacting genets, yet the clonal structure of vining species is often not apparent. Molecular markers can discriminate among the genetic identities of entwined vines to reveal the number and spatial distribution of genets. This study investigated how genets are spatially distributed within and among discrete patches of the invasive vine kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, in the United States. It was expected that ramets of genets would be spatially clustered within patches, and that an increase in the number of genets within a patch would be associated with a decrease in the average size of each genet.

METHODS
Six discrete kudzu patches were sampled across 2 years, and 1257 samples were genotyped at 21 polymorphic allozyme loci. Variation in genotypic and genetic diversity among patches was quantified and patterns of genet interdigitation were analysed.

KEY RESULTS
Substantial genotypic and genetic variation occurred within and among patches. As few as ten overlapping genets spanned up to 68?m(2) in one patch, while >90 % of samples were genetically unique in another patch. Genotypic diversity within patches increased as mean clone size decreased, although spatially widespread genets did not preclude interdigitation. Eight genets were shared across =2 patches, suggesting that vegetative dispersal can occur among patches.

CONCLUSIONS
Genetically unique kudzu vines are highly interdigitated. Multiple vegetative propagules have become established in spatially discrete patches, probably through the movement of highway construction or maintenance machinery. The results suggest that common methods for controlling invasive vines (e.g. mowing) may inadvertently increase genotypic diversity. Thus, understanding vine architecture and growth has practical implications.