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.
Kartzinel et al. use genetic markers to determine the extent and overlap of genetically unique kudzu vines (Pueraria montana var. lobata) in multiple patches over 2 years, and find that, contrary to expectations, patches are not dominated by one or a few genets. Dominance is generally low and every patch has considerable interdigitation of multilocus genotypes. Importantly, the results provide genetic evidence that viable kudzu vines have been spread across spatially discrete patches, most likely inadvertently through the movement of highway construction or maintenance machinery.