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ARS Home » Plains Area » Miles City, Montana » Livestock and Range Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337413

Title: Does responsiveness to arbuscular mycorrhizas depend on plant invasive status?

item Reinhart, Kurt
item LEKBERG, YLVA - Mpg Ranch
item KLIRONOMOS, JOHN - University Of British Columbia
item MAHERALI, HAFIZ - University Of Guelph

Submitted to: Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2017
Publication Date: 8/29/2017
Citation: Reinhart, K.O., Lekberg, Y., Klironomos, J., Maherali, H. 2017. Does responsiveness to arbuscular mycorrhizas depend on plant invasive status? Ecology and Evolution. 7:6482-6492.

Interpretive Summary: • Problems - Failure to successfully restore rangelands following row crop agriculture, energy extraction, fire, and weeds may depend in part on the presence of helpful soil biology (e.g. mycorrhizas=root fungi). Little is known about the importance of helpful soil biology to plants in rangelands, especially the Northern Great Plains region. • Accomplishments - Experiments on 68 grassland species from the Northern Plains and 95 species from the Central Plains indicate that mycorrhizas increased the biomass of many plant species. However, plants from the Northern Plains tended to have varied responses to mycorrhizas. • Management implications - Our findings indicate that many plant species may have difficulty establishing into areas with degraded soil biology. Some plants for the Northern Plains region, however, appeared to be less dependent on mycorrhizas thereby suggesting they may be more likely to establish into areas with degraded soil biology. Invasive grassland plants had a wide range of interactions with mycorrhizas and some are likely to degrade the quality of a site's soil biology.

Technical Abstract: 1. Some posit invasive alien plants are less dependent on mycorrhizal associations than native plants, and thus weak mycorrhizal responsiveness may be a general mechanism of plant invasion. 2. Here, we tested whether mycorrhizal responsiveness varies by plant invasive status while controlling for phylogenetic relatedness among plants with two large grassland datasets. Mycorrhizal responsiveness was measured for 68 taxa from the Northern Plains, and data for 95 taxa from the Central Plains were included. 3. Nineteen percent of taxa from the Northern Plains had greater total biomass with mycorrhizas while 61% of taxa from the Central Plains responded positively. For the Northern Plains taxa, measurable effects of mycorrhizas often depended on response variable (i.e. total biomass, shoot biomass, and root mass ratio) suggesting varied resource allocation strategies when roots are colonized by mycorrhizal fungi. In both datasets, invasive status was phylogenetically conserved thereby indicating that invasive taxa are often from a few distinct plant clades, especially Poaceae and Asteraceae families. Mycorrhizal responsiveness was not phylogenetically conserved among taxa for the Northern Plains but was for taxa from the Central Plains. After controlling for phylogenetic similarity, we found no evidence that invasive taxa responded differently to mycorrhizas than other taxa. 4. Although it is possible that mycorrhizal responsiveness contributes to invasiveness in particular species, weak mycorrhizal responsiveness may not be a general mechanism of plant invasion. Mycorrhizal responsiveness also varied widely among species, even though plants were grown under common conditions, and so more work is needed to determine the factors driving differential effects.