Biodiversity Science ›› 2010, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (6): 577-589.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.2010.577

Special Issue: Biological Invasions: Mechanisms Impacts and Management;

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Impacts of natural hybridization and introgression on biological invasion of plant species

Bao-Rong Lu*; Hui Xia; Wei Wang; Xiao Yang   

  1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, School of Life Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
  • Received:2010-06-07 Online:2011-01-31
  • Bao-Rong Lu

Biological invasions have caused tremendous ecological and socio-economic damages worldwide. Therefore, it is important to develop methods for their effective management. Biological invasion is a process of adaptive evolution in which hybridization and introgression play an important role in promoting invasive species by changing their invasiveness. Therefore, understanding how the genetic mechanisms of hybridization and introgression influence biological invasion will facilitate effective control of invasive species. The escape of transgenes with special functions into populations of wild relatives through hybridization and introgression may change the invasiveness and weediness of the wild relatives, causing undesired environmental problems. This paper introduces the role of hybridization and introgression in adaptive evolution and speciation, and discusses how an alien species can change its adaptability, competitive ability, and invasiveness in new habitats through introgressive hybridization. Hybridization and introgression can cause polyploid and homoploid evolution of plant species, thereby influencing the fitness of new species and promoting the formation of an invasive species in new habitats. At the same time, with the rapid development of transgenic technologies, transgenic crops are being extensively released into the environment for commercial production. Biological invasion is a complicated evolutionary and ecological process, and future research should investigate the roles of hybridization and introgression in biological invasions in the context of the myriad factors that influence the process.

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