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Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) genetic diversity in the western United States and implications for biological control

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2019

John F. Gaskin*
Research Biologist, USDA–Agricultural Research Service, Sidney, MT, USA
Jose A. Andrés
Senior Research Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Steven M. Bogdanowicz
Research Support Specialist, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Kimberly R. Guilbault
Graduate Student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Ruth A. Hufbauer
Professor, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
Urs Schaffner
Head Ecosystems Management, Research Scientist, CABI, Delémont, Switzerland
Philip Weyl
Research Scientist, CABI, Delémont, Switzerland
Livy Williams III
Research Entomologist, USDA–Agricultural Research Service, Charleston, SC, USA; and European Biological Control Laboratory, Montpellier, France
Author for correspondence: John F. Gaskin, USDA–Agricultural Research Service, Sidney, MT 59270. (Email:


Invasions can be genetically diverse, and that diversity may have implications for invasion management in terms of resistance or tolerance to control methods. We analyzed the population genetics of Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia L.), an ecologically important and common invasive tree found in many western U.S. riparian areas. We found three cpDNA haplotypes and, using 11 microsatellite loci, identified three genetic clusters in the 460 plants from 46 populations in the western United States. We found high levels of polymorphism in the microsatellites (5 to 15 alleles per locus; 106 alleles total). Our native-range sampling was limited, and we did not find a genetic match for the most common cpDNA invasive haplotype or a strong confirmation of origin for the most common microsatellite genetic cluster. We did not find geographic population structure (isolation by distance) across the U.S. invasion, but we did identify invasive populations that had the most diversity, and we suggest these as choices for initial biological control–release monitoring. Accessions from each genetic cluster, which coarsely represent the range of genetic diversity found in the invasion, are now included in potential classical biological control agent efficacy testing.

Research Article
© Weed Science Society of America, 2019 

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Associate Editor: Marie Jasieniuk, University of California, Davis


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