Soil microbial carbon utilization, enzyme activities and nutrient availability responses to Bidens pilosa and a non-invasive congener under different irradiances.
Two Bidens species (Bidens pilosa and B. bipinnata) that originate from America have been introduced widely in pan-tropics, with the former regarded as a noxious invasive weed whereas the latter naturalized as a plant resource. Whether the two species exhibit different effects on the belowground system remains rarely studied. This study was conducted to investigate soil microbial carbon (C) utilization, enzyme activities and available nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium contents under the two species in a subtropical garden soil of southern China under different levels of light intensity. Results showed that the microbial C utilization and enzyme activities were not significantly different under the two species, implying that the strong invasiveness of B. pilosa could not be due to the plant-soil microbe interactions, at least plant-induced alterations of microbial community function to utilize C substrates. Alternatively, available soil nitrogen and potassium contents were significantly higher under B. pilosa than under B. bipinnata in full sun, indicating that the strong invasiveness of B. pilosa could result from rapid nutrient mobilizations by B. pilosa. However, the differences turned non-significant as light intensity decreased, suggesting that light availability could substantially alter the plant effects on soil nutrient mobilizations.