While several recent studies have described changes in microbial communities associated with exotic plant invasion, how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) communities respond to exotic plant invasion is not well known, despite the salient role of this group in plant interactions. Here, we use molecular methods (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses based on the large subunit of the rRNA gene) to examine AMF community structure in sites dominated by the invasive mycorrhizal forb, Centaurea maculosa Lam. (spotted knapweed), and in adjacent native grassland sites. Our results indicate that significant AMF community alteration occurs following C. maculosa invasion. Moreover, a significant reduction in the number of restriction fragment sizes was found for samples collected in C. maculosa -dominated areas, suggesting reduced AMF diversity. Extraradical hyphal lengths exhibited a significant, on average 24%, reduction in C. maculosa -versus native grass-dominated sites. As both AMF community composition and abundance were altered by C.maculosa invasion, these data are strongly suggestive of potential impacts on AMF-mediated ecosystem processes. Given that the composition of AMF communities has the potential to differentially influence different plant species, our results may have important implications for site restoration after weed invasion.
Plant and Soil – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2006
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