Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1481–1490

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance spotted knapweed growth across a riparian chronosequence

  • Mary J. Harner
  • Daniel L. Mummey
  • Jack A. Stanford
  • Matthias C. Rillig
Original Paper


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) mediate nutrient uptake that accelerates plant growth and reproduction. Thus, AMF may promote plant invasions often observed along rivers. We assessed the importance of AMF in improving growth of the invasive species, spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), during succession of riparian vegetation along a flood plain in Montana, USA. We grew spotted knapweed with and without AMF in soils collected from riparian sites ranging from 1 to 72 years old and measured the plant’s growth response to AMF. We observed variability in relative effects of AMF, with greatest growth benefits in recently deposited alluvial sediments. We then separated effects of soil and inoculum source by growing spotted knapweed with soils and inocula collected from young or old sites and found that growth responses were greatest in young soils regardless of inoculum source. Our results demonstrate that AMF directly benefit growth of spotted knapweed, especially in soils that typify early successional sites on this alluvial flood plain.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Centaurea Floodplain Mycorrhizal responsiveness Riparian Spotted knapweed 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary J. Harner
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Daniel L. Mummey
    • 1
  • Jack A. Stanford
    • 3
  • Matthias C. Rillig
    • 2
  1. 1.Microbial Ecology Program, Division of Biological SciencesThe University of MontanaMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Institut für BiologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Flathead Lake Biological StationThe University of MontanaPolsonUSA

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