Plant-soil feedbacks between invasive shrubs and native forest understory species lead to shifts in the abundance of mycorrhizal fungi.
Aims: Non-native shrubs are important invaders of the Eastern Deciduous Forest, dramatically altering forest structure and functioning. Study of invasion mechanisms in this system has emphasized aboveground processes, and plant-soil feedbacks are relatively unexplored as a mechanism of shrub dominance. We tested whether plant-soil feedback in this habitat is affected by competition and whether arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are involved in plant-soil feedback. Methods: We used a standard two-phase plant-soil feedback experiment run concurrently for each of three invasive shrub species, measuring feedback effects on AMF colonization, aboveground biomass, and the responses of native plant species in greenhouse mesocosms. Results: Lonicera maackii and Ligustrum vulgare reduced AMF colonization of native roots, both with legacy effects (prior growth in soil) and direct effects (current growth in soil). Elaeagnus umbellata grown with natives left a legacy of increased AMF colonization of native communities. Conclusions: Our results suggest that woody invasive species can alter the AMF associations of native plants even after the invasive is no longer present. Such consequences merit study with other native species and where environmental factors, such as light availability, might be expected to compound the effects of changes in AMF.