Intraspecific hybridization between diverged populations can enhance fitness via various genetic mechanisms. The benefits of such admixture have been proposed to be particularly relevant in biological invasions, when invasive populations originating from different source populations are found sympatrically. However, it remains poorly understood if admixture is an important contributor to plant invasive success and how admixture effects compare between invasive and native ranges. Here, we used experimental crosses in Lythrum salicaria, a species with well-established history of multiple introductions to Eastern North America, to quantify and compare admixture effects in native European and invasive North American populations. We observed heterosis in between-population crosses both in native and invasive ranges. However, invasive-range heterosis was restricted to crosses between two different Eastern and Western invasion fronts, whereas heterosis was absent in geographically distant crosses within a single large invasion front. Our results suggest that multiple introductions have led to already-admixed invasion fronts, such that experimental crosses do not further increase performance, but that contact between different invasion fronts further enhances fitness after admixture. Thus, intra-continental movement of invasive plants in their introduced range has the potential to boost invasiveness even in well-established and successfully spreading invasive species.
|Date made available||21 Mar 2018|