© Martin Bobka © Martin Bobka

Relationship between soil fungus and spread of Norway Maple

Relationship between soil fungus and spread of Norway Maple

01/05/2015 - 01/05/2018

Do soil fungal communities facilitate invasion of temperate forests by the Norway Maple? – Dawson College – Concordia University – UQAM

The invasion of exotic plant species is a global phenomenon which is significantly altering native plant diversity and ecosystem function. However, the underlying mechanisms by which some introduced, exotic species successfully spread and displace native species remain poorly understood and the consequences of these invasions on the below-ground components of native communities are largely unknown.

Plants in terrestrial ecosystems have evolved in direct and indirect contact with a multitude of soil organisms and the interactions between plants and soil microbes strongly influence both plant and soil community composition and ecosystem processes. As such, the balance of these plant-microbe interactions can play an influential role in mediating the success of plant invasions. In particular, the mutualistsic symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi can play an influential role in the invasion of introduced species.

The Norway Maple is perhaps the most invasive species of trees found in the Province of Québec and is reducing species diversity in invaded areas and is inhibiting the growth of the native Sugar Maple. Both Sugar and Norway maple form symbiotic relationships with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), yet we do not know whether invasive and native maples benefit from associations with AMF in the same ways or to the same extent. Also, there have been no field studies comparing the AMF communities in the roots of the Norway Maple and native maple species in Québec.

Therefore, the aims of this study are to:  assess the environmental determinants of the AMF community structure in Sugar Maple and Norway Maple; compare the species composition and colonization rate of AMF communities in native and invasive species of Maple using cutting-edge molecular approach (i.e., genomics) and test whether AMF and soil fungal communities equally affect the growth of native and invasive species using greenhouse experiments.

© Staffan Widstrand / WWF © Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Stay Connected

Get email updates on WWF-Canada’s critical conservation work and learn how you can make a difference.