Intraspecific, ecotypic and home climate variation in photosynthetic traits of the widespread invasive grass Johnsongrass
Fletcher, Rebecca A.
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Despite their near ubiquity across global ecosystems, the underlying mechanisms contributing to the success of invasive plants remain largely unknown. In particular, ecophysiological traits, which are fundamental to plants' performance and response to their environment, are poorly understood with respect to geographic and climate space. We evaluated photosynthetic trait variation among populations, ecotypes and home climates (i.e. the climates from the locations they were collected) of the widespread and expanding invader Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense). We found that populations vary in the maximum net photosynthetic flux and the light-saturated net photosynthetic rate, and that agricultural and non-agricultural ecotypes vary in apparent quantum yield and water-use efficiency (WUE). We also found that populations from warmer home climates had lower dark respiration rates, light compensation points and WUEs. As Johnsongrass expands across the USA the abiotic and biotic environments are driving variation in its genetics, phenotypes and its underlying physiology. Our study demonstrates the importance of evaluating physiological traits in invasive plants, especially as they relate to home climates.