Native congeners provide biotic resistance to invasive Potentilla through soil biota

Ragan M. Callaway, Daniel Montesinos, Kimberlyn Williams, John L. Maron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Soil biota can facilitate exotic plant invasions and these effects can be influenced by specific phylogenetic relationships among plant taxa. We measured the effects of sterilizing soils from different native plant monocultures on the growth of Potentilla recta, an exotic invasive forb in North America, and conducted plant-soil feedback experiments with P. recta, two native congeners, a close confamilial, and Festuca idahoensis, a native grass species. We also reanalyzed data comparing the ability of P. recta to invade experimentally constructed congeneric monocultures vs. monocultures of a broad suite of non-congeners. We found that monocultures as a group, other than those of the native P. arguta, were highly invasible by P. recta. In contrast, this was not the case for monocultures of P. arguta. In our first experiment, the biomass of P. recta was 50% greater when grown in soil from F. idahoensis monocultures compared to when it was grown in soils from P. arguta or P. recta monocultures. Sterilizing soil from F. idahoensis rhizospheres had no effect on the biomass of P. recta, but sterilizing soil from P. arguta and P. recta rhizospheres increased the biomass of P. recta by 108% and 90%, respectively. In a second experiment, soil trained by F. idahoensis resulted in a positive feedback for P. recta. In contrast, soils trained independently by each of the two native Potentilla species, or the closely related Dasiphora (formerly Potentilla) resulted in decreases in the total biomass of the invasive P. recta indicating strong negative feedbacks. Soil trained by P. recta also resulted in intraspecific negative feedbacks. Our results demonstrate substantial negative feedbacks for an invader in its nonnative range under certain conditions, and that native congeners can mount strong biotic resistance to an invader through the accumulation of deleterious soil biota.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1229
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Communities
  • Exotic species
  • Grasslands invasion
  • Intermountain prairie
  • Pathogens
  • Plant-soil feedbacks


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