Does the "glossy privet" (Ligustrum lucidum) alter the composition of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in the Chaco Serrano?
Biological invasions represent a major threat to biodiversity and the integrity of ecosystems, since they generate alterations in biotic communities. Among the biotic soil communities, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are a major component establishing symbiotic associations with the majority of land plants. The HMA species do not respond in the same way to environmental changes; so, the existence of groups of HMA species with shared ecological strategies (ruderals, competitors and stress-tolerants) was proposed. Invasive plants are capable of altering AMF communities for their own benefit. This could be the case of the "glossy privet" (Ligustrum lucidum), an Asian tree that invades important areas of Argentina and forms dense monospecific stands in certain locations. In this study, the HMA spore communities were compared between glossy privet monospecific forests and native Chaco Serrano forests. Six areas were selected with both types of forest. We obtained soil samples from which AMF spores were extracted and physicochemical properties were measured. As expected, the spore community composition differed between monospecific glossy privet stands and native forests. The HMA spore richness did not differ between both types of forest but the total abundance was higher in glossy privet stands that show a higher spore abundance of ruderal AMF species. This study provides evidence that suggests that L. lucidum expansion alters certain soil chemical properties and HMA spore communities. These changes may feedback on glossy privet growth and promote the formation of monospecific stands.