Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Protect a Native Plant from Allelopathic Effects of an Invader

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The allelopathic potential of the Eurasian invasive plant Alliaria petiolata has been well documented, with the bulk of the effects believed to be mediated by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). We exposed the herbaceous annual Impatiens pallida, which is native to North America, to fractionated A. petiolata extracts at four developmental stages (germination, presymbiosis growth, symbiosis formation, and symbiosis growth) by using exposure levels expected to be similar to field levels. Surprisingly, we found strong direct effects on I. pallidagermination and growth, but no indirect effects on I. pallida growth mediated by AMF. We also observed strong synergistic effects with a complete A. petiolata extract that inhibited I. pallidagermination and presymbiosis root growth more than either a glucosinolate or flavonoid enriched fraction alone. In fact, the flavonoid enriched fraction tended to stimulate germination and presymbiosis root growth. In contrast to these strong direct effects, I. pallidaplant growth during both the symbiosis formation and symbiosis growth phases was unaffected by A. petiolata extracts. We also found no inhibition of AMF colonization of roots or soils by A. petiolata extracts. We show that AMF can actually ameliorate allelopathic effects of an invasive plant, and suggest that previously observed allelopathic effects of A. petiolata may be due to direct inhibition of plant and fungal growth before symbiosis formation.



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