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Jun 02, 2011
American Journal Of Botany
Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) is a widespread invasive plant that remains an important landscape shrub represented by ornamental, purple-leaved forms of the botanical variety atropurpurea. These forms differ greatly in appearance from feral plants, bringing into question whether they contribute to invasive populations or whether the invasions represent self-sustaining populations derived from the initial introduction of the species in the late 19th century. In this study we used amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers to determine whether genetic contributions from B. t. var. atropurpurea are found within naturalized Japanese barberry populations in southern New England. Bayesian clustering of AFLP genotypes and principal coordinate analysis distinguished B. t. var. atropurpurea genotypes from 85 plants representing five invasive populations. While a single feral plant resembled B. t. var. atropurpurea phenotypically and fell within the same genetic cluster, all other naturalized plants sampled were genetically distinct from the purple-leaved genotypes. Seven plants from two different sites possessed morphology consistent with Berberis vulgaris (common barberry) or B. ×ottawensis (B. thunbergii × B. vulgaris). Genetic analysis placed these plants in two clusters separate from B. thunbergii. Although the Bayesian analysis indicated some introgression of B. t. var. atropurpurea and B. vulgaris, these genotypes have had limited influence on extant feral populations of B. thunbergii.

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