Background and Aims: Black cherry (Prunus serotina) is a North American tree that is rapidly invading European forests. This species was introduced first as an ornamental plant then it was massively planted by foresters in many countries but its origins and the process of invasion remain poorly documented. Based on a genetic survey of both native and invasive ranges, the invasion history of black cherry was investigated by identifying putative source populations and then assessing the importance of multiple introductions on the maintenance of gene diversity. Methods: Genetic variability and structure of 23 populations from the invasive range and 22 populations from the native range were analysed using eight nuclear microsatellite loci and five chloroplast DNA regions. Key Results: Chloroplast DNA diversity suggests there were multiple introductions from a single geographic region (the north-eastern United States). A low reduction of genetic diversity was observed in the invasive range for both nuclear and plastid genomes. High propagule pressure including both the size and number of introductions shaped the genetic structure in Europe and boosted genetic diversity. Populations from Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany showed high genetic diversity and low differentiation among populations, supporting the hypothesis that numerous introduction events, including multiple individuals and exchanges between sites, have taken place during two centuries of plantation. Conclusions: This study postulates that the invasive black cherry has originated from east of the Appalachian Mountains (mainly the Allegheny plateau) and its invasiveness in north-western Europe is mainly due to multiple introductions containing high numbers of individuals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science