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Though most introduced species do not survive, a select few are able to successfully colonize new habitats. Among these few successful invaders is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), a biennial Eurasian forb that was introduced to the United States by early colonists. By 1886, the herb was found amidst native plant communities in Long Island and today has established notable distribution in thirty-seven U.S. states, five Canadian provinces, and parts of New Zealand. In its non-native range, garlic mustard has been shown to disrupt mycorrhizal associations of surrounding native plants, hindering growth and survival of its competitors through the production of toxic secondary metabolites such as flavonoids, defense proteins, alliarinoside, flavonoid glycosides, glucosinolates, and cyanide. Laboratory studies have suggested that garlic mustard decreases the abundance of entomopathogenic fungi, which serves as a natural control of arthropod populations. However, this pattern was not detected in a 15 site field study in the Hudson Valley, NY; a comparison between entomopathogenic fungal infections of bioassay Galleria mellonella in garlic mustard and non-garlic mustard plots did not yield significant results. This study illustrates the variation between laboratory and field studies. Possible explanations for the lack of a discernible difference between entomopathogenic fungi growth on bioassays deployed in the presence and absence of garlic mustard may be linked to site- and context-dependent circumstances, seasonal variation of garlic mustard secondary metabolite concentrations, diminishing toxicity of established garlic mustard communities, and/or weather-related artifacts.
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Gilman, Kira, "The effects of non-native garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) on entomopathogenic fungi and arthropods in a field-based study" (2012). Senior Projects Spring 2012. 169.
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