Introduction of Paterson's curse (Echium plantagineum) to Australia: Unravelling the story by DNA sequence analysis

Xiaocheng Zhu, David Gopurenko, Dominik Skoneczny, Brendan J. Lepschi, Mark A Spencer, Geoffrey Gurr, Ragan Callaway, Miguel Serrano, Leslie Weston

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum L.) is an annual/biennial species in the family Boraginaceae. Native to N.W. Africa, the Iberian Peninsula and Atlantic Western Europe, it is a noxious weed in Australia and has spread over 30 M ha resulting in A$ 250 M annual losses to agricultural industries. Determination of the pathway of introduction is critical to gain further insight into the invasion pathway and process including the sources of propagules. Two hypotheses regarding origin of Australian populations were formulated: 1) introduction as an ornamental via seed importation from England; 2) multiple introductions via South Africa from the Iberian Peninsula and UK. In this study, 131 Australian E. plantagineum samples were analysed using one nuclear gene region (ITS) and three chloroplast gene regions (trnL intron, trnL-trnF spacer and trnH-psbA) and compared with successfully sequenced samples from the Iberian Peninsula (N=43), UK (N=15), South Africa (N=24) and the USA (N=4). A high level of genetic diversity was found in Australia, which suggests a complex history of introduction of Australian E. plantagineum. The most abundant haplotype in Australia was shared with the Iberian Peninsula and UK populations, which suggested that they are both critical source population for Australian E. plantagineum. Importantly, however, 10 of 12 haplotypes found in Australia were represented in South Africa, indicating its potentially important historical role as an intermediate source population for E. plantagineum introductions. The Australian E. plantagineum population was genetically most similar to the UK population and significantly different from other populations, which supports UK E. plantagineum as potential founding population and the Iberian Peninsula and South African populations as additional sources of genetic diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Australasian Weeds Conference (2016)
EditorsRod Randall, Sandy Lloyd, Catherine Borger
Place of PublicationPerth, Western Australia
PublisherWeed Society of Western Australia
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780646960319
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event20th Australasian Weeds Conference (2016) - Pan Pacific Hotel, Perth, Australia
Duration: 11 Sept 201615 Sept 2016 (Conference website) (Conference proceedings)


Conference20th Australasian Weeds Conference (2016)
Abbreviated titleScience, Community and Food Security: the Weed Challenge
OtherIn 2016, the Council of Australasian Weed Societies (CAWS), along with local hosts the Weeds Society of Western Australia, are celebrating the 20th Australasian Weeds Conference. The biennial conference is being held at the Pan Pacific in Perth, Western Australia which has traditionally been one of the highest attended AWC's, and over 300 delegates are expected from across Australasia.
Delegates will come together to meet-up with peers, engage with industry sponsors, and to listen and participate in presentations and field trips on a variety of topics including:

Herbicide Resistance
Weeds of National Significance
Agricultural weeds
Environmental weeds
Biological control of weeds
Modelling and new technologies to manage weeds
Legislation, regulation and policy to manage weed
Internet address

Grant Number

  • ARCDP130104346


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