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Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 2779–2791 | Cite as

A novel impact of a novel weapon: allelochemicals in Alliaria petiolata disrupt the legume-rhizobia mutualism

  • Cristina Portales-Reyes
  • Tina Van Doornik
  • Elizabeth H. Schultheis
  • Tomomi Suwa
Original Paper

Abstract

Some introduced species become invasive by releasing novel allelochemicals into the soil, directly harming nearby plants and soil microbes. Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) is an invasive plant, well known to excrete a suite of phytotoxic and anti-microbial allelochemicals, including allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) and benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC). While the effects of these chemicals on plant-mycorrhizae mutualisms are well documented, the effects on other plant-soil microbe interactions, such as the legume-rhizobia mutualism, have not yet been tested. Here, we performed laboratory and greenhouse experiments with both synthetic chemicals and leaf extracts to investigate the effects of allelochemicals in A. petiolata on a native leguminous plant, Amphicarpaea bracteata, and its rhizobia mutualists. We found that BITC reduced rhizobia growth rate in the lab, but had no effect on nodulation in the greenhouse when rhizobia were grown in the presence of plants. AITC did not directly harm either plants or rhizobia, though plants and rhizobia grown in the presence of AITC showed reduced nodulation, indicating that it disrupted the formation of the mutualism itself. We found no effects of A. petiolata allelochemical leaf extracts on plant performance or nodulation. Our data suggest that AITC causes mutualism disruption in this system by preventing the formation of nodules, which reduces plant growth and could threaten the long-term performance of rhizobia. Our study shows that the allelochemicals in A. petiolata disrupt the legume-rhizobia resource mutualism, adding another impact of these novel weapons in addition to their well-documented role in disrupting plant-mycorrhizae symbioses.

Keywords

Garlic mustard Amphicarpaea bracteata Allelopathy Plant invasion Mutualism disruption 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank J.A. Lau, J.P. Martina, R. Tinghitella, S. Murphy, A. Sher, J. Morris, and colleagues at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) and University of Denver who provided comments that substantially improved this manuscript. We would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers who provided useful feedback on earlier versions of this paper. For the use of their field sites, we thank the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, Michigan Nature Association, and KBS. This work was funded by an NSF-BEACON REU fellowship awarded to C. Portales-Reyes, KBS Undergraduate Research Apprenticeships awarded to C. Portales-Reyes and T. Van Doornik, and by a George H. Lauff Research Award awarded to E.H. Schultheis and T. Suwa. This is KBS publication #1793.

Supplementary material

10530_2015_913_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18486 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Portales-Reyes
    • 1
  • Tina Van Doornik
    • 2
  • Elizabeth H. Schultheis
    • 3
  • Tomomi Suwa
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution & BehaviorUniversity of Minnesota Twin CitiesSaint PaulUSA
  2. 2.Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Marine Biology and FisheriesUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Department of Plant BiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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