Context dependency of the allelopathic effects of Lonicera maackii on seed germination
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Allelopathic effects of invasive plants on native flora may be mitigated by the abiotic and biotic environment into which the allelochemicals are released. Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle), an invasive plant of the eastern deciduous forest, suppresses seed germination in laboratory assays. We investigated how L. maackii leachate interacts with abiotic conditions and with the soil microbial community. First, we tested the effects of leaf extract from L. maackii on germination of the native woodland herb, Blephilia hirsuta, under different light and soil conditions. We found that germination of Blephilia hirsuta was reduced by L. maackii extract, but abiotic conditions did not interact with this effect. We also tested the effects of leaf extract on germination of five native woodland species and L. maackii placed in sterile or live soil. There was an overall suppressive effect of L. maackii extract on itself and the other five native species tested. However, L. maackii extract interacted with live soil in ways that differed with the species being tested and, in some cases, changed over time. Our results indicate that allelopathic potential of L. maackii shows context dependency with respect to soil microorganisms and native species identity but not to light conditions or soil type. Our results imply that restoration of invaded areas may require active reintroduction of species sensitive to allelopathy in live soil. Further, laboratory assays of allelopathy should consider the interaction of allelochemicals with biotic and abiotic conditions to more accurately predict the impacts of allelopathy on plant communities.
KeywordsInvasion Allelopathy Live soil Leachate Eastern deciduous forest
José Aguilar and Adriaunna Smith assisted with pilot studies that informed these experiments, and their contributions were supported through the Indiana University Department of Biology Lilly Scholars Program. The Cox Research Scholarship Program at Indiana University supported R. E. Stoops and the Floyd Fellowship program at Indiana University supported J. T. Bauer and S. M. Shannon. The Amos W. Butler Audubon Society and the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society also provided funding for this study.
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