Hound's-tongue is an invasive, biennial weed that thrives in dry rangelands of British Columbia. Rosette formation in the first year of growth and a deep root system offer this weed a competitive advantage against associated grasses under dry conditions. To study effects of water stress on seedling growth and mycorrhizal colonization in hound's-tongue, seedlings of this weed were grown in pots in a greenhouse and subjected to four (100, 80, 60, and 40% of field capacity) soil moisture treatments. Effects of soil moisture stress (SMS) on several growth parameters as well as mycorrhizal colonization of roots were studied. The total biomass, shoot and root fresh and dry weights, leaf number, petiole length, leaf area, and specific leaf weight (leaf dry weight per unit leaf area) decreased with increasing SMS; shoot and root water content was not affected. Because of a greater effect of SMS on root compared with the shoot biomass, shoot:root ratio increased as the moisture stress increased. Water stress decreased mycorrhizal colonization and arbuscule and vesicle abundance. A reduction in total biomass, leaf number and leaf area per plant, petiole length, and mycorrhizal colonization may reduce the competitive advantage of hound's-tongue over its neighbors under drought conditions. The effect on plant size may also influence herbivory, by biocontrol agents and other herbivores, and fecundity of this weed.
Nomenclature: Hound's-tongue, Cynoglossum officinale L.