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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #210490

Title: Biological Warfare in Invasive Plants

item Vaughn, Steven

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/11/2007
Publication Date: 7/11/2007
Citation: Abts, A.J., Lang, K.A., Vaughn, S.F., Morris, S.J., Mc Connaughay, K. 2007. Biological warfare in invasive plants [abstract]. Botany and Plant Biology Joint Congress Meeting. ID #2209.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is an invasive species in temperate forests throughout North America that has led to a decrease in species diversity and alterations in nutrient cycling. Garlic mustard produces an arsenal of secondary chemicals in the glucosinolate family that have strong biocidal properties that deter herbivores and kill off fungi. We previously hypothesized that carbon and nitrogen availabilities in the environment would modulate internal (tissue level) C and N availability which, in turn, modulate glucosinolate production. We examined variability in plant growth, tissue carbon, nitrogen, and glucosinolate profiles in natural populations of garlic mustard from five forest sites that vary in light availability, soil pH and, possibly, soil nitrogen. Our data did not support our initial hypothesis; however, we did find an intergenerational relationship between first and second year garlic mustard plants. Glucosinolate production in first year plants was highest in sites where glucosinolate production was least for second year plants. As we continued to compare growth between first and second year plants, we found a similar relationship. We now believe that internal carbon and nitrogen availability do not have as much influence in glucosinolate production as other environmental factors may. Global change is altering the balance of many ecosystems, making them more susceptible to invasive plants that thrive on disturbance of native areas. Understanding the factors that regulate the cache of glucosinolates in garlic mustard will improve our ability to manage systems that are, or could become, dominated by this aggressive invader.