Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance spotted knapweed growth across a riparian chronosequence

Mary J. Harner, Daniel L. Mummey, Jack A. Stanford, Matthias C. Rillig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1490
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Centaurea
  • Floodplain
  • Mycorrhizal responsiveness
  • Riparian
  • Spotted knapweed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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