From South America to Shenzhen, China; road trip of an invasive weed

The South American weed Mikania micrantha has spread rapidly across Southern China since its introduction to the Shenzhen region in 1984. Geng et al. used SSR markers to investigate and map genetic diversification of this weed along highways.

Sampling plots of Mikania micrantha in Guangdong Province, South China.
Sampling plots of Mikania micrantha in Guangdong Province, South China.

The results show a relatively low level of genetic differentiation, a lack of clear geographic genetic structure and strong gene flow between populations. The long-distance dispersal of seeds associated with vehicular transportation on highways may have provided corridors for the spread of M. micrantha in Southern China, thereby shaping genetic variation.

Reference List

Geng, S.-L., Chen, Q., Cai, W.-L., Cao, A.-C., & Ou-Yang, C.-B. (2016). Genetic variation in the invasive weed Mikania micrantha (Asteraceae) suggests highways as corridors for its dispersal in southern China. Annals of Botany, 119(3), 457–464. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw218