Exotic plant species impact belowground processes by influencing resource availability through enhanced microbial activity as a consequence of litter inputs. We have little understanding of the impact of microbe-driven nutrient fluctuations on biomass accumulation of invasive species. In a recent article in AoB PLANTS, Bajpai and Inderjit attempt to determine whether soil community-driven nitrogen availability influences invader biomass. They discovered that soil communities cultured by Ageratina adenophora, a neotropical invader in Asia, retain available nitrogen that influences the biomass of the invader. Through soil manipulation experiments they found that A. adenophora grows better in soil with higher available nitrogen content. Ageratina adenophora-invaded soil had higher microbial activity and available nitrogen due to higher inputs of terpene-rich litter compared to soil not yet invaded by it. Their results provide evidence that microbe-linked nitrogen availability exerts a positive impact on A. adenophora biomass accumulation, emphasizing the importance of soil community-driven nitrogen availability in invasion success.
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