Hybridization between plant species may cause ecological changes in species, enhancing their potential to become invasive. Increasing evidence suggests that the expanding distribution of Lactuca serriola could (partly) be caused by hybridization with its closest relative, the crop plant L. sativa (lettuce). Fitness advantages in hybrids may result from heterosis and epistasis but single added traits may enhance hybrid fitness as well. Here, we study the potential for introgression of an important crop trait, downy mildew (Bremia lactucae) resistance, into L. serriola hybrids. We monitored the abundance of B. lactucae on wild L. serriola in The Netherlands to test its impact potential. We found that B. lactucae is common in The Netherlands: B. lactucae occurred in 33 of the 35 surveyed populations of L. serriola. Subsequently, under regulated conditions, using two physiotypes of B. lactucae (BL-16 and BL-18), we recorded (i) quantitative conidiophore and (ii) haustoria development in seedlings. Furthermore, we explored its effects on plant fitness. Based on the (non-) occurrence of conidiophores, genomic segments from L. sativa that include Bremia resistance are present and expressing in these hybrids for at least two hybrid generations. However, haustoria density was lower in all hybrids, irrespective of physiotype or siring cultivar. We attributed this to heterosis. Furthermore, all plants shed infected leaves, but we observed no effects of infection on reproductive fitness. We therefore suggest that when L. serriola gains resistance to B. lactucae, the fitness effects are tow. The hypothesis that the gain of B. lactucae resistance is causally related to the recent spread of L. serriola has become less Likely. If hybridization is connected to this at all, it seems through heterosis. We conclude that it is important to study fitness impacts of introgressed traits along with other ecological factors. (c) 2006 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
2007. Vol. 8, no 2, 135-146 p.