Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 2695–2706 | Cite as

Using invasion theory to predict the fate of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal inoculants

  • Corrina N. ThomsenEmail author
  • Miranda M. Hart
Perspectives and paradigms


The agricultural use of commercial “biofertilizers” containing arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, obligate symbionts that help plants take up nutrients, has resulted in the global introduction of AM fungi to non-native environments. Despite their growing use and evidence for endemism among AM fungi, the risk of AM fungi becoming invasive through “biofertilizer” application has not been studied in the context of general invasion theory. Understanding their dispersal by multiple vectors and in different environments is key to understanding how quickly they could spread. In this review, we consider the risk of invasion by commercial AM fungi in terms of a theoretical framework. We propose traits that make an isolate good for use as a commercial product, such competitiveness and high sporulation rate, may also increase invasiveness.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Invasion Biofertilizers Fungal traits Dispersal Soil microbiome Agriculture 



We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers who provided feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the NSERC Discovery Program and AAFC Growing Forward 2 to M.M.H., and a NSERC CGS-M Award to C.N.T.

Authors’ contributions

CNT led the writing with substantial contributions from MMH, and the ideas presented herein were developed together.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of British Columbia OkanaganKelownaCanada

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