The invasive plant Impatiens glandulifera manipulates microbial associates of competing native species

Nadia Ab Razak, Alan Gange, Brian C. Sutton, Asyraf Mansor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impatiens glandulifera or Himalayan balsam is one of the most invasive weeds across Europe and can seriously reduce native plant diversity. It often forms continuous monocultures along river banks, but the mechanisms of this arrested succession are largely unknown. Here, we investigated the effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi on balsam competitive ability with two native plant species, Plantago lanceolata and Holcus lanatus. We also studied how competition with Impatiens affects colonisation by foliar endophytes and mycorrhizas of two other co-occurring native species, Urtica dioica and Cirsium arvense. Mycorrhizal colonisation reduced balsam growth when the plants were grown singly, but appeared to have little effect when balsam experienced intra or interspecific competition. Competition with balsam together with addition of mycorrhizas had no effect on P. lanceolata biomass, suggesting that the fungi were beneficial to the latter, enabling it to compete effectively with balsam. However, this was not so with H. lanatus. Meanwhile, competition with Impatiens reduced endophyte numbers and mycorrhizal colonisation in U. dioica and C. arvense, leading to enhanced susceptibility of these plants to insect attack. Himalayan balsam is known to degrade soil fungal populations and can also reduce foliar beneficial fungi in neighbouring plants. This allows the plant to compete effectively with itself and other native species thereby leading to the continuous monocultures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1552
JournalPlants Basel
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023


  • arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • invasive species
  • native species
  • plant competition
  • insect
  • endophyte

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