The ability of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) to influence the performance of nonnative invasive plants in their introduced range has received increasing attention. The dependence of the invasive nonnative vine pale swallow-wort on AMF was studied in three greenhouse experiments. The aims of the present work were to (1) determine AMF colonization levels of field-collected pale swallow-wort plants and several co-occurring native and nonnative plant species, (2) evaluate the growth response of pale swallow-wort to different components of the soil microbial community from an infested site, and (3) determine the growth response of pale swallow-wort when grown with a nonlocal AMF species. AMF root colonization was greater in pale swallow-wort (85, 98, and 50% arbuscules, hyphae, and vesicles, respectively) than in leek (72, 80, and 25%), a species that has been frequently used as a predictor of AMF density in soil. Root colonization of pale swallow-wort in the field was also greater than root colonization of common milkweed, a native herbaceous species often co-occurring in the same habitats, as well as two other herbaceous species, Canada goldenrod and blueweed. Survival of pale swallow-wort plants was significantly greater in soil collected underneath dense monospecific stands of pale swallow-wort in a Henderson Harbor, NY, field site than in sterilized soil. After 12 wk, plants grown in sterilized soil had a 33% survival rate, whereas all plants grown in the unamended soil, with an intact microbial community, were alive. Moreover, plants grown in the unamended soil were 130% taller, had 50% more leaves, and had 83% greater total biomass compared with plants grown in sterile soil. Plants grown in soil containing a Glomus intraradices isolate collected in Troy, AL, were 50% shorter and had 15% lower total biomass than plants grown in the unamended New York field soil. These pale swallow-wort seedlings also had a high mycorrhizal dependency of 93%. Plants grown in a sterilized soil that was reamended with an AMF-free microbial wash had significantly lower belowground and total biomass than plants grown in the unamended soil with the resident AMF community. There was a trend of decreasing height and biomass for plants grown in sterile soil relative to the unamended controls treatment. Plants grown in sterilized soil had significantly (28%) greater total biomass than plants reamended with the AMF-free microbial wash. These findings suggest that AMF occurring in invaded habitats have beneficial effects on pale swallow-wort survival and growth.
Nomenclature: Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L.; leek, Allium ampeloprasum L.; blueweed, Echium vulgare L.; Canada goldenrod, Solidago canadensis L.; pale swallow-wort, Vincetoxicum rossicum (Kleopow) Barbar.