Intra- and interspecific hybridization in invasive Siberian elm
von Wehrden, H.
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Hybridization creates unique allele combinations which can facilitate the evolution of invasiveness. Frequent interspecific hybridization between the Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila, and native elm species has been detected in the Midwestern United States, Italy and Spain. However, Ulmus pumila also occurs in the western United States and Argentina, regions where no native elm species capable of hybridizing with it occurs. We examined whether inter- or intraspecific hybridization could be detected in these regions. Nuclear markers and the program STRUCTURE helped detect interspecific hybridization and determine the population genetic structure in both the native and the two non-native ranges. Chloroplast markers identified sources of introduction into these two non-native ranges. No significant interspecific hybridization was detected between U. pumila and U. rubra in the western United States or between U. pumila and U. minor in Argentina and vice versa. However, the genetic findings supported the presence of intraspecific hybridization and high levels of genetic diversity in both non-native ranges. The evidence presented for intraspecific hybridization in the current study, combined with reports of interspecific hybridization from previous studies, identifies elm as a genus where both inter- and intraspecific hybridization may occur and help maintain high levels of genetic diversity potentially associated with invasiveness.