Contrasting growth phenology of native and invasive forest shrubs mediated by genome size

Jason D. Fridley, Alaä Craddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Examination of the significance of genome size to plant invasions has been largely restricted to its association with growth rate. We investigated the novel hypothesis that genome size is related to forest invasions through its association with growth phenology, as a result of the ability of large-genome species to grow more effectively through cell expansion at cool temperatures. We monitored the spring leaf phenology of 54 species of eastern USA deciduous forests, including native and invasive shrubs of six common genera. We used new measurements of genome size to evaluate its association with spring budbreak, cell size, summer leaf production rate, and photosynthetic capacity. In a phylogenetic hierarchical model that differentiated native and invasive species as a function of summer growth rate and spring budbreak timing, species with smaller genomes exhibited both faster growth and delayed budbreak compared with those with larger nuclear DNA content. Growth rate, but not budbreak timing, was associated with whether a species was native or invasive. Our results support genome size as a broad indicator of the growth behavior of woody species. Surprisingly, invaders of deciduous forests show the same small-genome tendencies of invaders of more open habitats, supporting genome size as a robust indicator of invasiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Biological invasions
  • Budbreak
  • Deciduous forests
  • Flow cytometry
  • Nuclear DNA content (2C DNA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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