Population genetic structure of native versus naturalized sympatric shrub willows (Salix; Salicaceae)

Juan Lin, James P. Gibbs, Lawrence B. Smart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Vegetative propagation of an introduced species can contribute significantly to its ability to spread and become naturalized, potentially in competition with native species. This study focused on the naturalization of a willow shrub, Salix purpurea, which was introduced to the United States from Europe and is commonly sympatric with the native shrub willow, S. eriocephala. Both species are capable of vegetative and sexual reproduction, but little is known about their relative frequency, nor the impact of clonal propagation on population-level genetic diversity. We analyzed genotypes at several microsatellite loci in 993 individuals belonging to 30 subpopulations of S. eriocephala and 28 subpopulations of S. purpurea in areas of sympatry across three watersheds to compare their genetic diversity and genetic structure. Our results revealed six subpopulations of S. purpurea containing plants with identical multilocus genotypes, while clonal individuals were rare among S. eriocephala populations. These species are dioecious with relatively high levels of heterozygosity, but S. eriocephala had much higher allelic diversity and genotypic diversity than did S. purpurea. These results strongly suggest that vegetative propagation has contributed to the naturalization of S. purpurea and has resulted in higher levels of genetic differentiation among S. purpurea populations than among native S. eriocephala populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-785
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Clonal Propagation
  • Genetic structure
  • Heterozygosity
  • Microsatellites
  • Salicaceae
  • Salix eriocephala
  • Salix purpurea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Population genetic structure of native versus naturalized sympatric shrub willows (Salix; Salicaceae)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this