Unresolved composition of Lantana camara: Impediment to its management

April 14, 2015, Pensoft Publishers
This image shows brilliantly flowering Lantana camara L. (sensu lato) at high altitude along road side in Kerala, India. Credit: Gyan Prakash Sharma

A group of plant invasion ecologists from University of Delhi, India have highlighted the need to disentangle the composition of the highly variable Lantana species complex in order to facilitate management efforts towards this highly invasive species. The study was published in the latest issue of the open access journal NeoBiota.

The native range of L. camara is Central and South America; however it has become naturalized in around 60 tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide. The plants from this species complex are highly invasive and often colonize previously disturbed areas such as logged forests and wastelands. Importantly, the extent of L. camara distribution is still increasing.

To try and tackle these worrying trends Neha Goyal & Gyan P. Sharma from the University of Delhi have looked into the reasons why management of Lantana has proved ineffective so far. Based on their research opinion, the scientists propose unresolved composition of Lantana species complex as one of the prime reasons behind ineffective management of this invader.

The species complex, Lantana camara L. (sensu lato) [Lantana camara in the broad sense] consists of varied complex constituents; however the exact composition of the complex remains unclear. The complex constituents show huge diversification at the phenotypic (morphology of leaves, flowers, stem and thorniness etc.) as well as at genotypic level (chromosome number and ploidy level).

Endless episodes of horticultural improvement within the genus and on-going hybridization events in the wild tend to further increase the complexity. The striking diversity in the complex makes it extremely difficult for the workers in the field to appropriately identify the species of interest, predict and understand its invasiveness. Thus, delimiting understanding of Lantana camara L. to all possible weedy and/or invasive genets within the complex is misleading with the current understanding of the complex composition.

Huge diversity in the complex and rapid adaptive evolution might potentially be held responsible for complex constituents' wider distribution. The study further cautions that the complex beholds immense invasion potential in future scenarios of climate change.

Realizing the remarkable spread and better performance of the invader in heterogeneous environmental conditions, circumscribing composition of the species complex is important to check invader's future spread risks. The focus of the research article has aimed for a consistent taxonomic delineation based on morphology, cytology, and genetic attributes with genome size as a potential taxonomic tool for disentangling the formidable Lantana species complex.

"As a future development after this initial synthesis we look forward to possible strengthening of the collaborative research efforts of invasion ecologists, cytogeneticists and conservationists to disentangle Lantana species complex," explains Dr. Gyan Prakash Sharma and Neha Goyal.

Explore further: Enhanced online resource gives land managers "heads up" for invasive plants of Australia's future

More information: Goyal N, Sharma GP (2015) Lantana camara L. (sensu lato): an enigmatic complex. NeoBiota 25: 15-26. DOI: 10.3897/neobiota.25.8205

Related Stories

Flowering lantana draws butterflies -- but little water

September 11, 2009

Big color, little water, lots of butterflies. How does that sound? That's the story of lantana in a nutshell. But I'm famous for verbosely pontificating on the attributes of plants whenever I have an audience, so let's dig ...

Researchers look into the future to weed out problem plants

June 12, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers from Macquarie University and the University of Canberra have developed an assessment scheme that allows them to look into the future to see which exotic plants might become tomorrow's problematic ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.