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Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a non-indigenous, non-mycorrhizal, shade-tolerant invasive herb that is now widespread in North America. It is known to exude biochemical compounds that can inhibit the growth of the so-called entomopathogenic fungi that are known to infect arthropods. I investigated the effects of garlic mustard removal on entomopathogenic fungi. I tested for the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in soil from forest plots with and without garlic mustard and then removed the garlic mustard plants. I tested for the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi again 45 days after garlic mustard removal and found that the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in soil with a previous history of garlic mustard restored to levels found in soil with no history of garlic mustard. These results suggest that whenever entomopathogenic fungi are present in the soil, arthropods could survive at higher rates in soils with garlic mustard compared to soils without it, and that it is possible to naturally increase the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi in the soil in one and half months or less by eradicating garlic mustard plants from an invaded area. The anti-entomopathogenic effect of garlic mustard could be beneficial to humans if it reduces the mortality of arthropods that provide valuable ecosystem services, such as bees and ants, but harmful if it reduces the mortality of arthropods that are vectors of infectious disease, such as blacklegged ticks.
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Vaicekonyte, Regina, "The Effects of the Removal of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) on the Abundance of Entomopathogenic Fungi" (2011). Senior Projects Spring 2011. 216.
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