Soil microbes play an important role in plant invasion, and parasitic plants regulate the growth of invasive plants. However, the mechanisms by which parasitic plants regulate the effects of soil microbes on invasive plants have not been investigated. Here, we used the invasive plant Alternanthera philoxeroides and the holoparasitic plant Cuscuta grovonii to test whether and how C. grovonii parasitism shifts the effect of native soil microbes on the growth of A. philoxeroides. In a factorial setup, A. philoxeroides was grown in pots with the presence versus absence of parasitism and the presence versus absence of native soil microbes. The findings showed that native soil microbes increased the biomass and clonal growth of A. philoxeroides only in the absence of a parasite, whereas parasitism decreased the biomass and clonal growth of A. philoxeroides only in the presence of soil microbes. In addition, the presence of soil microbes increased the deleterious effects of the parasite on A. philoxeroides. These results indicate that parasitism can shift the effects of native soil microbes on the growth of the invasive plant A. philoxeroides. Our results enrich the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the success of plant invasion.
Life 13: 150, 2023.