Abstract Detail

Crops and Wild Relatives

Bellis, Emily [1], Hughes, Steven C. [2], Lucardi, Rima D. [3], Marsico, Travis D. [4].

Genomic characterization of wild sugarcane (Saccharum spontaneum) in the southeastern United States.

Pyrogenic invasive plant species, particularly grasses with reproductive flexibility, can cause rapid transformation of ecological communities. To reduce economic and ecological impacts, early detection and rapid response (EDRR) strategies seek to eradicate nascent/establishing invasive species before they can spread. Our recent research outlined an EDRR strategy focused on detection of nonnative, invasive plant propagules entering the USA at an international seaport as seed attached to air-intake grilles of refrigerated shipping containers. The work identified the Federal Noxious Weed (FNW) Saccharum spontaneum (wild sugarcane) as the most abundant taxon hitchhiking into the Garden City Terminal, the largest single-container operating facility in North America, at the Port of Savannah, Georgia, on containers carrying a particular agricultural commodity. All sampled containers were transported from western South America and overland through the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal Watershed is overrun with S. spontaneum, impeding reforestation efforts. In the USA, wild sugarcane has been documented and ground-truthed only in Florida. A federal risk assessment for this FNW species estimated more than 60% of the nation may be suitable for establishment. Because S. spontaneum readily hybridizes with other grass species and genera, including commercially cultivated sugarcane, genetic variation from other species could result in even more extensive invasion risk. Here, we present preliminary results utilizing low-coverage whole genome sequencing to characterize propagules of S. spontaneum that entered the USA between 2015 and 2017. We estimated the extent of genetic ancestry in our samples from S. spontaneum as compared to other species including S. officinarum, which is the primary contributor to the genomes of modern sugarcane cultivars. Analysis of recently sampled individuals throughout Florida further extends our effort to determine ancestry of naturalizing wild sugarcane populations in Florida and risk of spread. Our research on hitchhiking propagules and establishing populations of invasive pyrogenic grass species lays a foundation to understand complex genome evolution and to further evaluate invasion risk dynamics and prevention.

1 - Arkansas State University, Department of Computer Science, AR, USA
2 - The Herbarium at the University of Georgia, Department of Plant Biology, GA, USA
3 - United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station, GA, USA
4 - Arkansas State University, Department Of Biological Sciences, AR, USA

invasive species
Federal Noxious Weed.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: CWR1004
Abstract ID:199
Candidate for Awards:None

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