A distinct, non-native haplotype of the common reed Phragmites australis has become invasive in Atlantic coastal Spartina marshes. We compared the salt tolerance and other growth characteristics of the invasive M haplotype with 2 native haplotypes (F and AC) in greenhouse experiments. The M haplotype retained 50% of its growth potential up to 0.4 M NaCl, whereas the F and AC haplotypes did not grow above 0.1 M NaCl. The M haplotype produced more shoots per gram of rhizome tissue and had higher relative growth rates than the native haplotypes on both freshwater and saline water treatments. The M haplotype also differed from the native haplotypes in shoot water content and the biometrics of shoots and rhizomes. The results offer an explanation for how the M haplotype is able to spread in coastal salt marshes and support the conclusion of DNA analyses that the M haplotype is a distinct ecotype of P. australis.
Additional publication details
Salt tolerance underlies the cryptic invasion of North American salt marshes by an introduced haplotype of the common reed Phragmites australis (Poaceae)