S. alterniflora belongs to the genus Spartina, in the Poaceae family, and the subfamily Chloridoideae which represents a well-supported mono-phyletic lineage within Poaceae. Spartina is a relatively small genus consisting of approximately 15 species, and no-hybrid 12 species (Wang et al., 2006). They are S. alterniflora Loisel., S. argentinensis Parodi (=S. spartinae Trin. (Mobberley, 1956)), S. arundinacea (Thouars) Carmich., S. bakeri Merr., S. ciliata Brongn., S. cynosuroides (L.) Roth, S. densiflora Brongn., S. foliosa Trin., S. gracilis Trin., S. maritima (Curtis) Fern., S. patens (Aiton) Muhl., S. pectinata Bosc ex Link, respectively. Three hybrids are S. x townsendii H. & J. Groves, S. anglica C. E. Hubbard and S'.x neyrautii Foucaud respectively (Wang et al., 2006). According to the publications of government, there are two varieties of S. alterniflora species, S. alterniflora Loisel. var. glabra (Muhl. ex Bigelow) Fern. and S. alterniflora Loisel. var. pilosa (Merr.) Fern. In addition, in North America, S. alterniflora has two major growth forms, namely "tall form" and "short form". The tall form has a height of greater than 45 cm and the short form has a height of less than 45 cm (Valiela et al., 1978). In China, Spartina alterniflora presented three ecotypes, and there were significant differences among morphological and ecological parameters (Chen et al., 1992).
Most Spartina species are native to the New World (Mobberley, 1956), and only four taxa originate from Western Europe: Spartina maritima (Curtis) Fernald, Spartina anglica C.E. Hubb., Spartina x townsendii H. Groves & J. Groves, and Spartina x neyrautii Foucaud (Baumel et al., 2002a). The base chromosome number is x=10 in the genus Spartina, 2n ranging from 40 to 124 for species investigated to date (Marchant, 1970). Both polyploidy and aneuploidy are observed in this genus (Fig 1).
Mobberley (1956) and Partridge (1987) reported that Spartina geographically distributed along the east coast of North and South America, with small populations found on the west coast of North America, Africa and Europe. Spartina species are salt tolerant perennial rhizomatous wetland grasses that can be found primarily in wetlands, especially estuaries, but will also establish in internal freshwater habitats (Mobberley, 1956; Partridge 1987).
r4 S. ciliata 2
-S. densiflora 2S. arundinacea 1 S. patens - S. bakeri S. cynosuroides
Southampton (UK) S. y townsendii ~
Figure 1. Phylogeny of Genus Spartina Schreb. (Poaceae). (Wang & An, 2006)
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