Starch gel electrophoresis of plant proteins was used to genetically identify purple loosestrife (Lythrum spp.) cultivars and weedy populations. Preliminary determinations were made as to what degree weedy loosestrife populations were related (or genetically similar) to populations of L. alatum, L. virgatum, and horticultural cultivars. Cluster analysis of the data indicated that native L. alatum was genetically different from all populations of purple loosestrife and cultivars examined. The L. salicaria and L. virgatum cultivars, as groups, were not genetically distinguishable from the weedy populations analyzed. Seven cultivars of L. salicaria origin analyzed as a group were not distinguishable from the eight cultivars of L. virgatum origin, indicating that separation by cultivar origin may not be feasible. While the two “groups” were not distinguishable, most individual cultivars could be distinguished from one another by isozyme phenotype. Genetic variation was high within populations of weedy purple loosestrife but low among populations, which is characteristic of polyploid, perennial plant species that are widely distributed. Geographic location did not consistently correlate with genetic similarity.
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