Origin makes a difference: alternative responses of an AM-dependent plant to mycorrhizal inoculum from invaded and native soils under abiotic stress.
The presence of invasive alien plants (IAPs) alters the composition of soil arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal communities. Although fundamental for plant development, plant responses to AM from invaded soils have not been widely explored, especially under environmental stress. We compared plant growth, P accumulation, root colonization and the photosynthetic responses of the native AM-dependent Plantago lanceolata growing in contact with AM fungi from communities invaded by Acacia dealbata Link (AM inv) or non-invaded communities (AM nat) exposed to water and light restriction (shade). Under optimal growing conditions, plants in contact with AM nat produced higher leaf biomass and accumulated more P. However, plant responses to different AM inocula varied as the level of stress increased. Inoculation with AM inv promoted plant growth and root length under light restriction. When plants grew in contact with AM nat under drought, leaf P increased under severe water restriction, and leaf and root P increased under intermediate water irrigation. Growing in contact with the AM nat inoculum promoted root P content in both full light and light restriction. Colonization rates of P. lanceolata roots were comparable between treatments, and plants maintained photosynthetic activity within similar ranges, regardless of the level of stress applied. Our results suggest that origin of the inoculum (native soils versus invaded soils) did not affect the ability of AM species therein to establish effective mutualistic associations with P. lanceolata roots but did influence plant responses depending on the type and level of the abiotic stress.