Effects of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Removal on the Abundance of Entomopathogenic Fungi

  • Vaicekonyte R
  • Keesing F
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Abstract

Garlic mustard is an invasive, exotic herb that is now widespread in North America. Recent research has shown that garlic mustard exudes biochemical compounds that inhibit the growth of entomopathogenic fungi. We investigated how the removal of garlic mustard would affect the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in forest soils in eastern New York. Using a standard bioassay, we compared the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in soil with and without garlic mustard both before and 45 d after garlic mustard had been experimentally removed. In soil from which garlic mustard had been experimentally removed 45 d earlier, the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi was restored to levels found in soil with no history of garlic mustard. These results suggest it is possible to increase the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in the soil in a short time by eradicating garlic mustard plants from an invaded area. Recolonization by entomopathogenic fungi could be beneficial to humans if it increases the mortality of arthropods that are vectors of infectious disease, such as blacklegged ticks, but harmful if it increases the mortality of arthropods that provide valuable ecosystem services, such as bees and ants.

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Authors

  • Regina Vaicekonyte

  • Felicia Keesing

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