Acquisition and evolution of enhanced mutualism—an underappreciated mechanism for invasive success?

Min Sheng, Christoph Rosche, Mohammad Al-Gharaibeh, Lorinda S. Bullington, Ragan M. Callaway, Taylor Clark, Cory C. Cleveland, Wenyan Duan, S. Luke Flory, Damase P. Khasa, John N. Klironomos, Morgan McLeod, Miki Okada, Robert W. Pal, Manzoor A. Shah, Ylva Lekberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Soil biota can determine plant invasiveness, yet biogeographical comparisons of microbial community composition and function across ranges are rare. We compared interactions between Conyza canadensis, a global plant invader, and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in 17 plant populations in each native and non-native range spanning similar climate and soil fertility gradients. We then grew seedlings in the greenhouse inoculated with AM fungi from the native range. In the field, Conyza plants were larger, more fecund, and associated with a richer community of more closely related AM fungal taxa in the non-native range. Fungal taxa that were more abundant in the non-native range also correlated positively with plant biomass, whereas taxa that were more abundant in the native range appeared parasitic. These patterns persisted when populations from both ranges were grown together in a greenhouse; non-native populations cultured a richer and more diverse AM fungal community and selected AM fungi that appeared to be more mutualistic. Our results provide experimental support for evolution toward enhanced mutualism in non-native ranges. Such novel relationships and the rapid evolution of mutualisms may contribute to the disproportionate abundance and impact of some non-native plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2467-2478
Number of pages12
JournalISME Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


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