In the first such study of its kind, we examined gene flow potential between a valued native plant and a popular cultivar. We studied outcomes of controlled hybridization between Echinacea purpurea and a conspecific cultivar, E. purpurea 'White Swan', by comparing levels of competitive ability and reproductive potential. Differences in plant performance of wild-types and F1's were studied at three densities (20.3, 45.7, and 182.9 plants/m2) using a field competition experiment. Wild-types were slightly larger but F1s had higher reproductive output. These differences can be attributed to floricultural breeding of the cultivar parent. Based on the results of this research, if the initial hybridization between the wild-type and cultivar were to occur, it is anticipated that the resulting F1 generation would survive and reproduce, creating the potential for continued gene flow. This methodology has potential for use in risk assessment of plant introductions, including transgenic crops.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank N. Anderson, J. Luby, and R. Mack for their review and suggestions that improved early versions of the manuscript. This research was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society and by a graduate fellowship from the University of Minnesota Center for Community Genetics. This is Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station Publication, 981210012.
- Echinacea purpurea
- Gene flow
- Purple coneflower
- Risk assessment