First Advisor

Mitchell B. Cruzan

Date of Publication

Fall 11-21-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizas -- Cultural control -- Oregon, Bunchgrasses -- Cultural control -- Oregon, Invasive plants -- Biological control -- Oregon, Mutualism (Biology) -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 71 pages)


The effects that mutualistic soil biota have on invasive species success is a growing topic of inquiry. Studies of the interactions between invasive plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have shown changes in AMF community composition, reductions in AMF associations in invasive plants, and changes in native species fitness and competitive outcomes in invasive-shifted AMF communities. These findings support the degraded mutualist hypothesis, where invasive species alter the mutualist community composition, resulting in detrimental associations with the new mutualist community for native species. Here I present two studies that examine various aspects of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) mutualism in the success of a newly invasive bunchgrass, Brachypodium sylvaticum. The first chapter is a field survey of AMF associations between a native bunchgrass, Elymus glaucus and B. sylvaticum in the invaded range. The second chapter presents a test of reduced mycorrhizal dependence between invasive and native-range populations of B. sylvaticum. For the field survey, AMF colonization and spore density of root and soil rhizosphere samples from B. sylvaticum and E. glaucus from the two regions of introduction of the B. sylvaticum invasion were measured. In this survey I found lower AMF colonization and spore density in B. sylvaticum compared to the native species in the invaded ranges. The reduction in AMF associations in B. sylvaticum was predicted to be due to the evolution of reduced mycorrhizal dependence in invasive populations compared to native populations of B. sylvaticum. I tested the prediction for reduced mycorrhizal dependence by measuring the fitness gains or losses with AMF inoculation compared to sterile conditions in both fertilized and unfertilized treatments for individuals of B. sylvaticum from each of the introduction sites in Oregon, USA and source populations from the native range in Europe. There were no differences in plant or AMF fitness between the invasive and native populations of B. sylvaticum. Under high nutrients the interaction between all B. sylvaticum plants and AMF was mutualistic. Under low nutrient treatments both B. sylvaticum and AMF had reduced fitness measures, suggesting a competitive interaction. Nutrient levels of inoculated unfertilized soils are similar to field conditions. It is likely that the reduction in AMF associations in B. sylvaticum observed in the field is due antagonistic interactions between AMF and B. sylvaticum.


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