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Invasive species flourish in non-native regions due to soil microbes and fungi

  • Published
    30th Jul, 2022

A recent study indicates that the plant species considered as invasive in non-native regions, use characteristics to survive and flourish that are different from the ones in their native regions.


Key Findings of the study:

  • A study of the Canadian horseweed species revealed the changing behaviour of plant species in non-native regions, helping them to become successful invaders.
  • Conyza canadensis, commonly known as Canadian horseweed (Asteraceae) across four Mediterranean populations of California and Jordan, inter-mountain western United States and central China has been studied.
  • Soil microbial activity plays an important role in making invasive species flourish in non-native regions.
  • The microbial activity in the roots of the plant in native regions was less and the species showed more parasitic properties.
  • In India, the EU and Asia, the micro-fungal benefits were mutual.
  • The plants took carbon from the soil, but released nutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen and others in return.
  • The high amount of nutrients offered attracted microbes and fungi growth.
  • The findings show that the benefits are mutual in such a case and the plant evolved towards enhanced mutualism as it interacted with the microbes.
  • The study showed that such changing relations at a bio geographical scale between the plant and soil biota contributed towards the disproportionate abundance and success of the species as an invader in non-native regions.

About invasive species:

  • An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area.
  • Pathways: An invasive species can be introduced to a new area via the ballast water of oceangoing ships, intentional and accidental releases of aquaculture species, aquarium specimens or bait, and other means.
  • Not all non-native species are invasive.
  • For example, most of the food crops grown in the United States, including popular varieties of wheat, tomatoes, and rice, are not native to the region.
  • Features: To be invasive, a species must 
    • It must adapt to the new area easily.
    • It must reproduce quickly.
    • It must harm property, the economy, or the native plants and animals of the region.
  • Threats
  • Extinction of native ecosystem: Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats.
  • This can result in huge economic impacts and fundamental disruptions of coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems.
  • Threat to resources: Invasive species can harm both the natural resources in an ecosystem as well as threaten human use of these resources.
  • Threat to native wildlife: Invasive species are among the leading threats to native wildlife.
  • Approximately 42 percent of threatened or endangered species are at risk due to invasive species.

List of invasive flora and fauna in India


State / Region

Native to

African apple snail

Andaman and Nicobar

Papaya Mealy Bug


Mexico and Central America,

Cotton Mealy Bug


North America

Amazon sailfin catfish

West Bengal

Black Wattle

Western Ghats

South East Australia

Water Hyacinth

It is found throughout India

Tropical America

Black Mimosa

Himalaya, Western Ghats

Tropical North America

Parthenium/ Congress grass, Parthenium

It is found throughout India

Tropical North America

Cannibal Snail / Rosy wolf snail

Native to the southeastern United States.

Indian Bullfrog

Andaman and Nicobar

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan

Lantana camara

In the Bandipur National Park, Karnataka

South America

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