Shade-induced plasticity in invasive Impatiens glandulifera populations

M. Gruntman*, U. Segev, K. Tielbörger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phenotypic plasticity, which confers a fitness advantage under heterogeneous and novel environments, has been commonly suggested to contribute to the success of invasive plants in their introduced range. For example, plasticity in response to changes in light availability could facilitate invasiveness by allowing plants to both rapidly establish in unshaded, disturbed habitats, and tolerate shaded or crowded environments. The plastic responses of invasive plants to shade were mostly studied in morphological traits. However, plasticity in physiological traits might provide more rapid and reversible responses and thus be more effective in environments with rapid temporal variations. Here, we compared plasticity in a range of morphological and physiological traits that provide shade avoidance or tolerance between two native and six introduced populations of Impatiens glandulifera. In a common garden, we subjected second-generation siblings of native and invasive plants to two light availability treatments and measured their morphological, physiological and performance responses. Impatiens glandulifera from invasive populations exhibited greater phenotypic plasticity in response to light availability in four out of 12 measured traits. Moreover, this greater plasticity was mostly limited to physiological traits associated with photosynthetic acclimation. These results suggest high phenotypic plasticity in response to light availability could have facilitated I. glandulifera's spread in both disturbed habitats and woodlands or under intense light competition. The results of this study highlight the importance of considering physiological traits when studying the role of plasticity in the success of invasive plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
JournalWeed Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


FundersFunder number
Minerva Foundation
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftTI 338/8-1
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and DevelopmentDFG – TI 338/8‐1


    • invasive plants
    • morphological and physiological light responses
    • native and introduced ranges
    • phenotypic plasticity
    • photosynthesis
    • shade avoidance
    • shade tolerance


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