EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 08 - 2013 Num. article: 2013/182

Distinguishing invasive alien plants from non-invasive ones through DNA barcoding

Certain plants belonging to the genera Myriophyllum, Ludwigia and Cabomba and to the Hydrocharitaceae family are particularly invasive in water bodies. However, many related species are commercially traded and non-invasive, and are very similar morphologically in a vegetative stage. Preventing the entry of the invasive alien plants belonging to these groups requires that they can be distinguished from non-invasive species. As DNA barcoding could be a useful identification tool to achieve this, a study has been undertaken on chloroplast loci and could distinguish the following species from their respective related species:
  • Egeria densa (EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants), E. najas, Elodea canadensis, E. nuttallii (EPPO List of IAP), Lagarosiphon major (EPPO List of IAP) and L. muscoides (Hydrocharitaceae);
  • Ludwigia adsendens, L. grandiflora (EPPO A2 List), L. inclinata, L. octovalvis, L. palustris, L. peploides (EPPO A2 List), L. repens and L. sedioides (Onagraceae);
  • Myriophyllum alterniflorum, M. aquaticum (EPPO List of IAP), M. heterophyllum (EPPO List of IAP), M. robustum, M. simulans, M. spicatum, M. tuberculatum, and M. verticillatum (Haloragaceae);
It appeared that a non-coding spacer (trnH-psbA) was the best performing barcode for the aquatic plant species studied. DNA barcoding may therefore be helpful with enforcing a ban on trade on such invasive alien plants, such as that which is already in place in the Netherlands.


Ghahramanzadeh R, Esselink G, Kodde P, Duistermaat H, Van Valkenburg JLCH, Marashi SH, Smulders MJM ; Van de Wiel CCM (2012) Efficient distinction of invasive aquatic plant species from non-invasive related species using DNA barcoding. Molecular Ecology Resources. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12020.