Cyperus esculentus is an exotic clonal (or pseudoannual) weed in Japan, and its range is steadily increasing. To investigate its interclonal variation and phenotypic plasticity in response to water availability, five clones of C. esculentus, collected from different sites in Japan, were grown singly in pots placed outdoors under dry and wet conditions. All the traits examined showed considerable variation among the five clones. However, two clones from Tochigi were similar to each other; thus, they might have originated from the same founder population. The clone from Ibaraki was quite different from the others. Therefore, it is suggested that the Japanese populations of C. esculentus might have resulted from multiple introductions of genotypes from geographically separated and, hence, genetically differentiated, source populations. All the clones also showed considerable plasticity in response to water availability. Clones with a larger ramet number had a greater plasticity, whereas tuber size was invariant across water treatments. Highly plastic traits had generally low interclonal variation in plasticity. All the clones had high productivity and produced more ramets and tubers under wet conditions than under dry conditions. Moreover, water availability could partially regulate the mode of its reproduction; wet conditions favored tuber production (vegetative propagation) while dry conditions favored sexual reproduction. A number of trade-offs occurred between the traits of clonal growth, storage and sexual reproduction, indicating that allocation among the competing functions/organs is mutually exclusive in plants. The results obtained here suggest that C. esculentus is more likely to invade wet habitats than dry habitats.
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