Both innate and evolutionarily increased ecophysiological advantages can contribute to vigorous growth, and eventually to invasiveness of alien plants. Little effort has been made to explore the roles of innate factors of alien plants in invasiveness and the effects of CO2 enrichment on alien plant invasions.
To address those problems, Prof. Feng Yulong and his research team of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) compared invasive E. adenophorum (samples collected from invasive range China), a globally noxious invasive plant throughout the subtropics, its native conspecific (samples collected from its native range Mexico), and congener E. japonicum (native to China) under atmospheric and doubled CO2 concentrations. To fully understand how reallocation of Nitrogen from defenses to photosynthesis provides a mechanistic explanation for the increased growth in an invasive plant, they measured Nitrogen contents in defenses including cell walls and cyanogenic glycosides and different components of the photosynthetic apparatus.
The main purposes of the study were to explore: (1) the traits contributing to success of invasive E. adenophorum and the effects of innate and evolutionary factors on those traits; (2) whether CO2 enrichment encourages the invasive ability of E. adenophorum and related mechanisms.
The research found that both innate and evolutionary factors contribute to invasion success of invasive E. adenophorum, and CO2 enrichment might not aggravate its invasion.
Part of the study entitled “Innate and evolutionarily increased advantages of invasive Eupatorium adenophorum over native E. japonicum under ambient and doubled atmospheric CO2 concentrations” has been published in Biological Invasions, 13 (12): 2703-2714, DOI:10.1007/s10530-011-9940-y.