Highly diverse and highly successful: invasive Australian acacias have not experienced genetic bottlenecks globally

Sara Vicente, Cristina Máguas, David M. Richardson, Helena Trindade, John R. U. Wilson, Johannes J. Le Roux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aims: Invasive species may undergo rapid evolution despite very limited standing genetic diversity. This so-called genetic paradox of biological invasions assumes that an invasive species has experienced (and survived) a genetic bottleneck and then underwent local adaptation in the new range. In this study, we test how often Australian acacias (genus Acacia), one of the world's most problematic invasive tree groups, have experienced genetic bottlenecks and inbreeding.

Methods: We collated genetic data from 51 different genetic studies on Acacia species to compare genetic diversity between native and invasive populations. These studies analysed 37 different Acacia species, with genetic data from the invasive ranges of 11 species, and data from the native range for 36 species (14 of these 36 species are known to be invasive somewhere in the world, and the other 22 are not known to be invasive).

Key Results: Levels of genetic diversity are similar in native and invasive populations, and there is little evidence of invasive populations being extensively inbred. Levels of genetic diversity in native range populations also did not differ significantly between species that have and that do not have invasive populations.

Conclusion: We attribute our findings to the impressive movement, introduction effort and human usage of Australian acacias around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021


  • Acacia
  • Admixture
  • Biological invasions
  • Genetic paradox
  • Inbreeding
  • Propagule pressure
  • Rapid evolution
  • Tree invasions
  • Wattles


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