Molecular techniques to distinguish morphologically similar Hydrilla verticillata, Egeria densa, Elodea nuttallii, and Elodea canadensis

Journal of Aquatic Plant Management
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Abstract

The four submerged aquatic species, hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata [monoecious and dioecious]), Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa), Canadian waterweed (Elodea canadensis), and western waterweed (Elodea nuttallii), are difficult to positively identify because of their morphological similarity to each other, resulting in possible misidentification. This limits our ability to understand their past and present distribution, which is important in aquatic plant management. We investigated a molecular technique to identify these species, which are problematic because of their invasive nature on multiple continents. Approximately 100 samples of these species, ranging in age from 40-yr-old herbarium samples to recently collected plants, were collected from regions across the United States. The distribution and range of the samples collected in this research were compared to those reported in the literature. We confirmed information on the current wide distribution of both hydrilla biotypes in the United States and discovered that hydrilla had actually invaded the waterways near Washington, DC 6 yr earlier than originally reported. In addition, we found evidence of the confusion, dating back to the 1980s, between Canadian waterweed and western waterweed in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Canadian waterweed was previously reported as common and western waterweed as rare; however, our samples indicate the opposite is true. This information indicates there is a need for investigators to anticipate the spread of hydrilla populations to northern U.S. waterways, where it will compete with existing plant species, including Canadian and western waterweeds. Our ability to confirm distribution and pace of spread of invasive and noninvasive species will improve with increased application of molecular techniques.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Molecular techniques to distinguish morphologically similar Hydrilla verticillata, Egeria densa, Elodea nuttallii, and Elodea canadensis
Series title Journal of Aquatic Plant Management
Volume 51
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Aquatic Plant Management Society
Description 9 p.
First page 94
Last page 102
Country UNITED STATES
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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