Why do only some exotics become invasive? Combining ecological and genomic approaches to address alternative hypotheses in a recent Australian weed (2006)
Invasive weeds cost the Australian economy $3.3b annually. Only a small proportion of introduced plants become significant weeds and why this should be is unclear. Using the important east-coast weed, Senecio madagascariensis (fireweed), as our model, we will test different demographic, ecophysiological and genetic hypotheses as to why some plants become weeds. The project will combine leading-edge genomic techniques with ecophysiological experiments to identify specific genes responsible for weediness in fireweed and related species. The project fits the NRP protecting Australia from invasive species by producing specific methodologies which will allow prediction of potential weediness by exotic Asteraceae species.