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Keywords:

  • exotic plant invasion;
  • Amaranthus viridis;
  • soil microbial community;
  • mycorrhizae

Abstract

The objectives of this study were to determine whether the invasive plant Amaranthus viridis influenced soil microbial and chemical properties and to assess the consequences of these modifications on native plant growth. The experiment was conducted in Senegal at two sites: one invaded by A. viridis and the other covered by other plant species. Soil nutrient contents as well as microbial community density, diversity and functions were measured. Additionally, five sahelian Acacia species were grown in (1) soil disinfected or not collected from both sites, (2) uninvaded soil exposed to an A. viridis plant aqueous extract and (3) soil collected from invaded and uninvaded sites and inoculated or not with the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus Glomus intraradices. The results showed that the invasion of A. viridis increased soil nutrient availability, bacterial abundance and microbial activities. In contrast, AM fungi and rhizobial development and the growth of Acacia species were severely reduced in A. viridis-invaded soil. Amaranthus viridis aqueous extract also exhibited an inhibitory effect on rhizobial growth, indicating an antibacterial activity of this plant extract. However, the inoculation of G. intraradices was highly beneficial to the growth and nodulation of Acacia species. These results highlight the role of AM symbiosis in the processes involved in plant coexistence and in ecosystem management programs that target preservation of native plant diversity.