Special Issue "Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Microbial Diversity and Culture Collections".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Assist. Prof. Linda T.A. van Diepen
Website
Guest Editor
University of Wyoming, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Laramie, United States
Interests: microbial ecology; soil ecology; mycorrhizal fungi; microbial communities;ecosystem ecology;biogeochemistry;invasive species.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Invasive plant species are threatening natural ecosystems globally, with dire consequences for the biodiversity of these ecosystems and the services they can provide. Microbes are important contributors to ecosystem services, as they are intrinsically linked with plants and nutrient cycling through their roles as decomposers, mutualists, pathogens, and so on. These different roles of microbes are also potential explanations for the success of plant invasions, for example, enemy (pathogen) release hypothesis, accumulation of local pathogens hypothesis, enhanced mutualist hypothesis, and mutualist disruption hypothesis. This Special Issue aims to highlight current knowledge and new research focused on (1) the effects of invasive plant species on microbial diversity, (2) the effects of invasive plant species on functioning of microbes, (3) microbial interactions with both invasive and native plants in invaded ecosystems, or (4) the potential of microbes as bioherbicides in the fight against invasive plant species, or as inoculum to promote native vegetation.

Assist. Prof. Linda T.A. van Diepen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Acacia longifolia: A Host of Many Guests Even after Fire
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 250; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060250 - 19 Jun 2020
Abstract
Acacia longifolia is a worldwide invader that cause damage in ecosystems, expanding largely after wildfires, which promote germination of a massive seed bank. As a legume, symbiosis is determinant for adaptation. Our study aims to isolate a wider consortium of bacteria harboured in [...] Read more.
Acacia longifolia is a worldwide invader that cause damage in ecosystems, expanding largely after wildfires, which promote germination of a massive seed bank. As a legume, symbiosis is determinant for adaptation. Our study aims to isolate a wider consortium of bacteria harboured in nodules, including both nitrogen and non-nitrogen fixers. Furthermore, we aim to evaluate the effects of fire in nodulation and bacterial diversity on young acacias growing in unburnt and burnt zones, one year after the fire. For this, we used molecular approaches, M13 fingerprinting and 16S rRNA partial sequencing, to identify species/genera involved and δ15N isotopic composition in leaves and plant nodules. Nitrogen isotopic analyses in leaves suggest that in unburnt zones, nitrogen fixation contributes more to plant nitrogen content. Overall, A. longifolia seems to be promiscuous and despite Bradyrhizobium spp. dominance, Paraburkholderia spp. followed by Pseudomonas spp. was also found. Several species not previously reported as nitrogen-fixers were identified, proposing other functions besides ammonia acquisition. Our study shows that bacterial communities are different in nodules after fire. Fire seems to potentiate nodulation and drives symbiosis towards nitrogen-fixers. Taken together, a multifunctional community inside nodules is pointed out which potentiate A. longifolia invasiveness and adaptation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Open AccessArticle
Plant-Soil Feedback Effects on Germination and Growth of Native and Non-Native Species Common across Southern California
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 217; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060217 - 30 May 2020
Abstract
Changes in plant assemblages can influence biotic and abiotic soil conditions. These changes can cause plant–soil feedbacks that can inhibit or facilitate plant germination and growth. Here, we contribute to a growing literature examining plant–soil feedbacks in the endangered sage scrub ecosystem by [...] Read more.
Changes in plant assemblages can influence biotic and abiotic soil conditions. These changes can cause plant–soil feedbacks that can inhibit or facilitate plant germination and growth. Here, we contribute to a growing literature examining plant–soil feedbacks in the endangered sage scrub ecosystem by examining the germination and growth of Artemisia californica, the dominant native shrub species in the ecosystem, in soil conditioned by two widespread plant invaders (Brassica nigra, Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens), and the germination and growth of these invasive species in conspecific and heterospecific soils. Our findings suggest that: (i) A. californica soils can limit establishment of some species (B. nigra) but not others (B. madritensis), (ii) A. californica soil conditions reduce growth of all plant species, and (iii) non-natives are negatively impacted by soil microbes, but in some contexts can do better in heterospecific soil. As our findings were often incongruent with other studies that examined interactions among similar species at other sites, we suggest that we are at our infancy of understanding these complex interactions, and that developing a predictive framework for understanding plant soil feedbacks in the sage scrub ecosystem involves understanding how various plant species respond in different soil contexts within the ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Open AccessArticle
Drivers of Foliar Fungal Endophytic Communities of Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) in the Southeast United States
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12050185 - 09 May 2020
Abstract
Fungal endophytes play important roles in plant fitness and plant–microbe interactions. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is a dominant, abundant, and highly aggressive invasive plant in the Southeast United States. Kudzu serves as a pathogen reservoir that impacts economically important leguminous [...] Read more.
Fungal endophytes play important roles in plant fitness and plant–microbe interactions. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is a dominant, abundant, and highly aggressive invasive plant in the Southeast United States. Kudzu serves as a pathogen reservoir that impacts economically important leguminous crops. We conducted the first investigations on kudzu fungal endophytes (Illumina MiSeq—ITS2) to elucidate drivers of endophytic communities across the heart of the invasive range in the Southeast United States (TN, MS, AL, GA). We tested the impacts of multiple environmental parameters (Chlorophyll, NO3, K+, soil pH, leaf area, host genotype, traffic intensity, and geographic location) on foliar endophyte communities. Endophytic communities were diverse and structured by many factors in our PerMANOVA analyses, but location, genotype, and traffic (proxy for pollution) were the strongest drivers of community composition (R2 = 0.152, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.129, p < 0.001, and R2 = 0.126, p < 0.001, respectively). Further, we examined the putative ecological interactions between endophytic fungi and plant pathogens. We identify numerous OTUs that are positively and strongly associated with pathogen occurrence, largely within the families Montagnulaceae and Tremellales incertae sedis. Taken together, these data suggest location, host genetics and local pollution play instrumental roles in structuring communities, and integrative plant management must consider these factors when developing management strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Open AccessArticle
In Nitrate-Rich Soil, Fallopia x bohemica Modifies Functioning of N Cycle Compared to Native Monocultures
Diversity 2020, 12(4), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12040156 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The effects of invasive species at the ecosystem level remain an important component required to assess their impacts. Here, we conducted an experimental study with labeled nitrogen in two types of soil (low and high nitrate conditions), investigating the effects of (1) the [...] Read more.
The effects of invasive species at the ecosystem level remain an important component required to assess their impacts. Here, we conducted an experimental study with labeled nitrogen in two types of soil (low and high nitrate conditions), investigating the effects of (1) the presence of Fallopia x bohemica on the traits of three native species (Humulus lupulus, Sambucus ebulus, and Urtica dioica) and (2) interspecific competition (monoculture of the invasive species, monoculture of the native species, and a mixture of invasive/native species) on nitrification, denitrification, and related microbial communities (i.e., functional gene abundances). We found that the species with the higher nitrate assimilation rate (U. dioica) was affected differently by the invasive species, with no effect or even an increase in aboveground biomass and number of leaves. F. x bohemica also decreased denitrification, but only in the soil with high nitrate concentrations. The impacts of the invasive species on nitrification and soil microorganisms depended on the native species and the soil type, suggesting that competition for nitrogen between plants and between plants and microorganisms is highly dependent on species traits and environmental conditions. This research highlights that studies looking at the impacts of invasive species on ecosystems should consider the plant–soil–microorganism complex as a whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Mechanisms for Successful Ecological Restoration with Salvaged Topsoil in Coastal Sage Scrub Communities
Diversity 2020, 12(4), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12040150 - 14 Apr 2020
Abstract
Although aboveground metrics remain the standard, restoring functional ecosystems should promote both aboveground and belowground biotic communities. Restoration using salvaged soil—removal and translocation of topsoil from areas planned for development, with subsequent deposition at degraded sites—is an alternative to traditional methods. Salvaged soil [...] Read more.
Although aboveground metrics remain the standard, restoring functional ecosystems should promote both aboveground and belowground biotic communities. Restoration using salvaged soil—removal and translocation of topsoil from areas planned for development, with subsequent deposition at degraded sites—is an alternative to traditional methods. Salvaged soil contains both seed and spore banks, which may holistically augment restoration. Salvaged soil methods may reduce non-native germination by burying non-native seeds, increase native diversity by adding native seeds, or transfer soil microbiomes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), to recipient sites. We transferred soil to three degraded recipient sites and monitored soil microbes, using flow cytometry and molecular analyses, and characterized the plant community composition. Our findings suggest that salvaged soil at depths ≥5 cm reduced non-native grass cover and increased native plant density and species richness. Bacterial abundance at recipient sites were statistically equivalent to donor sites in abundance. Overall, topsoil additions affected AMF alpha diversity and community composition and increased rhizophilic AMF richness. Because salvaged soil restoration combines multiple soil components, including native plant and microbial propagules, it may promote both aboveground and belowground qualities of the donor site, when applying this method for restoring invaded and degraded ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Plant Invasion Has Limited Impact on Soil Microbial α-Diversity: A Meta-Analysis
Diversity 2020, 12(3), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12030112 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
Plant invasion has proven to be a significant driver of ecosystem change, and with the increased probability of invasion due to globalization, agricultural practices and other anthropogenic causes, it is crucial to understand its impact across multiple trophic levels. With strong linkages between [...] Read more.
Plant invasion has proven to be a significant driver of ecosystem change, and with the increased probability of invasion due to globalization, agricultural practices and other anthropogenic causes, it is crucial to understand its impact across multiple trophic levels. With strong linkages between above and belowground processes, the response of soil microorganisms to plant invasion is the next logical step in developing our conceptual understanding of this complex system. In our study, we utilized a meta-analytical approach to better understand the impacts of plant invasion on soil microbial diversity. We synthesized 70 independent studies with 23 unique invaders across multiple ecosystem types to search for generalizable trends in soil microbial α-diversity following invasion. When possible, soil nutrient metrics were also collected in an attempt to understand the contribution of nutrient status shifts on microbial α-diversity. Our results show plant invasion to have highly heterogenous and limited impacts on microbial α-diversity. When taken together, our study indicates soil microbial α-diversity to remain constant following invasion, contrary to the aboveground counterparts. As our results suggest a decoupling in patterns of below and aboveground diversity, future work is needed to examine the drivers of microbial diversity patterns following invasion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Microbial Communities in the Fynbos Region of South Africa: What Happens during Woody Alien Plant Invasions
Diversity 2020, 12(6), 254; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12060254 - 22 Jun 2020
Abstract
The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is globally known for its plant biodiversity, and its flora is commonly referred to as fynbos. At the same time, this area is under severe pressure from urbanization, agricultural expansion and the threat of invasive alien plants. Acacia [...] Read more.
The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is globally known for its plant biodiversity, and its flora is commonly referred to as fynbos. At the same time, this area is under severe pressure from urbanization, agricultural expansion and the threat of invasive alien plants. Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus are the common invasive alien plants found across the biome and considerable time, effort and resources are put into the removal of invasive alien plants and the rehabilitation of native vegetation. Several studies have shown that invasion not only affects the composition of plant species, but also has a profound effect on the soil chemistry and microbial populations. Over the last few years, a number of studies have shown that the microbial populations of the CFR are unique to the area, and harbour many endemic species. The extent of the role they play in the invasion process is, however, still unclear. This review aims to provide an insight into the current knowledge on the different microbial populations from this system, and speculate what their role might be during invasion. More importantly, it places a spotlight on the lack of information about this process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Interactions with Invasive Plant Species)
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