Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 67–83 | Cite as

Enemy of my enemy: evidence for variable soil biota feedbacks of Vincetoxicum rossicum on native plants

  • Angela E. Dukes
  • Akihiro Koyama
  • Kari E. Dunfield
  • Pedro M. AntunesEmail author
Original Paper


Interactions between plants and soil biota can be major drivers of plant invasions. The ‘Enemy of my enemy’ hypothesis (EEH) predicts that native plants are more negatively impacted by enemies (e.g. pathogens) that accumulate and spillover from the invader’s rhizosphere than the invaders themselves, thereby facilitating the invasion. We tested EEH using Vincetoxicum rossicum, one of the most invasive plant species in Eastern North America, and a total of eight co-occuring native plant species. Specifically, we predicted that the native species would grow less in presence of soil biota associated with V. rossicum than that from uninvaded soils. Field soils were collected from four V. rossicum invaded and neighboring uninvaded areas for use in two experiments. In Experiment 1, V. rossicum and each of five native plant species were grown in a plant growth chamber for 3 months, either in presence or absence of soil biota from the invaded and uninvaded soils. We found that only one species (Solidago canadensis) supported EEH. In contrast, the legume Desmodium canadense more than doubled its biomass in response to V. rossicum -associated soil biota. In Experiment 2, four native legume species, including D. canadense, were examined for EEH in the same manner as in Experiment 1. Only one species (Lespedeza hirta) supported EEH and, again, V. rossicum-associated soil biota was advantageous to D. canadense. In summary, we found inconsistent support for the EEH between V. rossicum and native co-occurring species in Eastern North America. We conclude that the accumulation of rhizosphere enemies in native plants may not be a major factor in the invasive success of V. rossicum.


Vincetoxicum rossicum Enemy of my enemy hypothesis Accumulation of local pathogens Plant-soil feedback Plant invasions Desmodium canadense 



This research was conducted in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory and the traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg, specifically the Garden River and Batchewana First Nations, as well as Métis People. We thank Jamie Davidson (Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority), Ken Towle (Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority), John Standeven (Orono Crown Lands), Elizabeth Heighington (Toronto Zoo), and Bohdan Kowalyk (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources) for site information and access; Dr. Hafiz Maherali for advice on phylogenetic analysis; Ontario Forest Research Institute, in particular Darren Derbowka and Kevin Maloney, for technical assistance and infrastructure access; Susan Meades, curator of the Northern Ontario Plant Database, for support with plant identification. Funding was provided by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and a Canada Research Chair to PMA.

Author contributions

All authors contributed to designing the experiment. A. Dukes conducted the experiments. A. Dukes and A. Koyama analyzed the data. A. Koyama, P.M Antunes and A. Dukes wrote the manuscript. All authors approved the final article.


This work was funded through an Ontario Graduate Scholarship and bursaries from the University of Guelph to A. Dukes and a NSERC Discovery Grant and a Canada Research Chair awarded to P.M. Antunes.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1804_MOESM1_ESM.docx (300 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 299 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyAlgoma UniversitySault Ste. MarieCanada
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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