1. Soil communities and their interactions with plants may play a major role in determining the success of invasive species. However, rigorous investigations of this idea using cross-continental comparisons, including native and invasive plant populations, are still scarce. 2. We investigated if interactions with the soil community affect the growth and biomass allocation of the (sub)tropical invasive shrub Chromolaena odorata. We performed a cross-continental comparison with both native and non-native-range soil and native and non-native-range plant populations in two glasshouse experiments. 3. Results are interpreted in the light of three prominent hypotheses that explain the dominance of invasive plants in the non-native range: the enemy release hypothesis, the evolution of increased competitive ability hypothesis and the accumulation of local pathogens hypothesis. 4. Our results show that C. odorata performed significantly better when grown in soil pre-cultured by a plant species other than C. odorata. Soil communities from the native and non-native ranges did not differ in their effect on C. odorata performance. However, soil origin had a significant effect on plant allocation responses. 5. Non-native C. odorata plants increased relative allocation to stem biomass and height growth when confronted with soil communities from the non-native range. This is a plastic response that may allow species to be more successful when competing for light. This response differed between native and non-native-range populations, suggesting that selection may have taken place during the process of invasion. Whether this plastic response to soil organisms will indeed select for increased competiti 6. The native grass Panicum maximum did not perform worse when grown in soil pre-cultured by C. odorata. Therefore, our results did not support the accumulation of local pathogens hypothesis. 7. Synthesis. Non-native C. odorata did not show release from soil-borne enemies compared to its native range. However, non-native plants responded to soil biota from the non-native range by enhanced allocation in stem biomass and height growth. This response can affect the competitive balance between native and invasive species. The evolutionary potential of this soil biota-induced change in plant biomass allocation needs further study.
te Beest, M., Stevens, N., Olff, H., & Van der Putten, W. H. (2009). Plant–soil feedback induces shifts in biomass allocation in the invasive plant Chromolaena odorata. Journal of Ecology, 97(6), 1281-1290. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01574.x