Mycorrhizae differentially alter growth, physiology, and competitive ability of an invasive shrub

Sarah R. Bray, Kaoru Kitajima, David M. Sylvia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Mycorrhizae improve phosphorus availability to host plants and alter their morphology, physiology, and competitive ability. We examined how different isolates of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, soil-P, light, and competition affect the growth, physiology, and biomass allocation of seedlings of an exotic invasive shrub of the southeastern United States, Ardisia crenata, in two greenhouse experiments. When Ardisia seedlings were grown singly in pots without competition, soil phosphorus concentration and light had no effect on seedling growth. Relative growth rates (RGR) and leaf area ratio (LAR), however, were higher for seedlings inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi isolated from Ardisia roots than those inoculated with single-spore isolates and nonmycorrhizal controls. In the second experiment, an Ardisia seedling was grown in each pot in competition with another conspecific seedling or with a seedling of Prunus caroliniana, a native subcanopy tree. The identity of the competitor had little effect on seedling RGR of Ardisia, but LAR was significantly higher for seedlings in conspecific competition. Overall, Prunus seedlings had higher RGR than Ardisia, but RGR and survival of Prunus seedlings were significantly reduced in competition with Ardisia when mycorrhizal fungi were suppressed by benomyl. These results suggest that competitive interactions of exotic invasive plants with native plants are dependent on the isolates of mycorrhizae present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-574
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology


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