Table of Contents
Journal of Botany
Volume 2010, Article ID 795735, 9 pages
Research Article

Genetic Structure of the Invasive Tree Ailanthus altissima in Eastern United States Cities

1Department of Biological Sciences, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL 60532, USA
2Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 180 Canfield Street, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA
3Biology Department, Grand Valley State University, 228 Henry Hall, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49401, USA

Received 18 June 2010; Accepted 21 August 2010

Academic Editor: Stephen W. Adkins

Copyright © 2010 Preston R. Aldrich et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ailanthus altissima is an invasive tree from Asia. It now occurs in most US states, and although primarily an urban weed, it has become a problem in forested areas especially in the eastern states. Little is known about its genetic structure. We explore its naturalized gene pool from 28 populations, mostly of the eastern US where infestations are especially severe. Five microsatellite markers were used to examine presumed neutral genetic variation. Results show a gene pool that is moderately diverse and sexually active and has significant but small genetic differences among populations and little correspondence between geographic and genetic distance. These findings are consistent with a model of multiple introductions followed by high rates of gene exchange between cities and regions. We propose movement along road and railway systems as the chief mode of range expansion.