Uncovering the genomic basis of an extraordinary plant invasion

Sci Adv. 2022 Aug 26;8(34):eabo5115. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abo5115. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Invasive species are a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis, but the drivers of invasiveness, including the role of pathogens, remain debated. We investigated the genomic basis of invasiveness in Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed), introduced to Europe in the late 19th century, by resequencing 655 ragweed genomes, including 308 herbarium specimens collected up to 190 years ago. In invasive European populations, we found selection signatures in defense genes and lower prevalence of disease-inducing plant pathogens. Together with temporal changes in population structure associated with introgression from closely related Ambrosia species, escape from specific microbial enemies likely favored the plant's remarkable success as an invasive species.

MeSH terms

  • Ambrosia* / genetics
  • Europe
  • Genomics
  • Introduced Species*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA