Help from under ground: soil biota facilitate knotweed invasion

Parepa, Madalin; Schaffner, Urs; Bossdorf, Oliver (2013). Help from under ground: soil biota facilitate knotweed invasion. Ecosphere, 4(2), art31. Ithaca, NY: Ecological Society of America 10.1890/ES13-00011.1

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Soil biota can be important drivers of plant community structure. Depending on the balance between antagonistic and mutualistic interactions, they can limit or promote the success of plant species. This is particularly important in the context of exotic plant invasions where soil biota can either increase the biotic resistance of habitats, or they can shift the balance between exotic and native plants towards the exotics and thereby greatly contribute to their dominance. Here, we explored the role of soil biota in the invasion success of exotic knotweed (Fallopia × bohemica), one of the world's most noxious invasive plants. We created artificial native plant communities that were experimentally invaded by knotweed, using a range of substrates where we manipulated different fractions of soil biota. We found that invasive knotweed benefited more from the overall presence of soil biota than any of the six native species. In particular the presence of the full natural soil biota strongly shifted the competitive balance in favor of knotweed. Soil biota promoted both regeneration and growth of the invader, which suggests that soil organisms may be important both in the early establishment of knotweed and possibly its later dominance of native communities. Addition of activated carbon to the soil made the advantage of knotweed disappear, which suggests that the mechanisms underlying the positive soil biota effects are chemically mediated. Our study demonstrates that soil organisms play a key role in the invasion success of exotic knotweed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Parepa, Madalin and Bossdorf, Oliver


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Ecological Society of America




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

31 Oct 2013 21:34

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2014 07:18

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

belowground interactions, biological invasions, Fallopia, invasibility, invasiveness, mycorrhiza, plant-soil interactions




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