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Asymmetric pathogen spillover favors exotic plants over natives
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  • Lauren Waller,
  • Warwick Allen,
  • Amanda Black,
  • Jonathan Tonkin,
  • Jason Tylianakis,
  • Angela Wakelin,
  • Ian Dickie
Lauren Waller
Lincoln University
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Warwick Allen
University of Canterbury
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Amanda Black
Lincoln University
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Jonathan Tonkin
University of Canterbury
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Jason Tylianakis
University of Canterbury
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Angela Wakelin
Lincoln University
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Ian Dickie
University of Canterbury
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Abstract

Exotic plants can escape from specialist pathogenic microorganisms in their new range, but may simultaneously accumulate generalist pathogens. This creates the potential for pathogen spillover, which could alter plant-competitive hierarchies via apparent competition. To assess the potential for and consequences of pathogen spillover in invaded communities, we conducted a community-level plant-soil feedback experiment in experimental communities that ranged in the extent of exotic dominance, using next-generation sequencing to characterize sharing of putatively-pathogenic, root-associated fungi (hereafter, ‘pathogens’). Exotic plants outperformed natives in communities, despite being subject to stronger negative plant-soil feedbacks in monoculture and harboring higher relative abundance of pathogens. Exotic plants made more general associations with pathogens, making them more prone to sharing pathogens with natives and exerting apparent competition. These data suggest that exotic plants accumulate generalist pathogens that are shared with native plants, conferring an indirect benefit to exotic, over native plants.