Reproductive strategies of weeds in Sumatra, Indonesia

Weedy plants, especially invasive species have a strong impact on tropical ecosystems. Recolonization of disturbed areas by invasive, non-native species is accompanied by covering vegetation, suppressing recruitments of native trees, altering spectra of pollinators, frugivores and herbivores. Among other factors, breeding systems play an important role for invasiveness of species of flowering plants.
In this PhD project we are focused on the model system Clidemia hirta (Melastomataceae), which is native to the Neotropics and known to reproduce via apomixis (asexual seed formation). The species is one of the most aggressive weeds in SE Asia and within the investigated area, the most common weed.
To test the hypothesis that apomixis occurs frequently in this invasive species we are using different methods, as pollen-exclusion experiments, germination rates, population genetic studies and molecular progeny arrays with nine microsatellite loci, microscopic histological investigation and flow cytometry.
This study will help us to understand the importance of breeding systems of invasive plants and their invasive potential. Results might help us to control weedy species with apomixis, which becomes a major issue for conservation strategies in tropical ecosystems.

Clidemia hirta