Using a combined morpho-ecological and molecular (amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprinting) approach, clonal growth, clonal reproduction and the resulting vegetative multiplication were examined in the pioneer species Tussilago farfara (Asteraceae).In two forest plots in Berlin (Germany), all modules and spacers of the plant were mapped and dug out. The plants showed intense clonal growth with leaf modules connected through long branched rhizomes. The rhizomes were brittle and regularly exhibited rotting zones and breaks. This clonal reproduction can occur rather fast; in a submersed stand in Lanke (Brandenburg, Germany), rhizomes showed signs of disintegration only a few weeks after the modules developed. As a consequence, modules become separated and genets fragment into merigenets.Using AFLP fingerprints, the relationships of samples from the two dug out plots were assessed: 15 and 18 analysed samples (representing 13 and 16 merigenets) belonged to only two and three distinct genets, respectively. Each of these genets was split into at least two to eleven morphologically independent merigenets, indicating frequent and effective clonal reproduction.The study highlights the relevance of vegetative multiplication in T. farfara, achieved rapidly through repeated clonal growth and subsequent clonal reproduction. The typical strategy of habitat colonisation and maintenance is described and illustrated for this pioneer species.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.