Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Dr. Jerome Howard

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Bell

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Whitbeck


Introduced populations of Eichhornia crassipes (Pontederiaceae) possess extremely low levels of genetic diversity due to severe bottleneck events and clonal reproduction. While populations elsewhere have been well studied, North American populations of E. crassipes remain understudied. We used Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism markers to assess genetic diversity and population structure in North American E. crassipes populations. Patterns of diversity over the past fifty years were analyzed using herbarium specimens. Furthermore, we sampled populations across the Gulf Coast of the United States throughout a year to determine contemporary genetic diversity and assess potential seasonal effects. Genetic diversity was found to be scant in the United States without population structure, agreeing with previous studies from other regions. Genetic diversity has remained consistently low over the past fifty years despite significant changes in selection pressure. However, evidence for and against population structure between seasons was found and the consequences of this are discussed.


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