Community-level interactions between plants and soil biota during range expansion



1. Plant species that expand their range in response to current climate change will encounter soil communities that may hinder, allow, or even facilitate plant performance. It has been shown repeatedly for plant species originating from other continents that these plants are less hampered by soil communities from the new than from the original range. However, information about the interactions between intra-continental range expanders and soil communities is sparse, especially at community level. 2. Here we used a plant-soil feedback experiment approach to examine if the interactions between range expanders and soil communities change during range expansion. We grew communities of range-expanding and native plant species with soil communities originating from the original and new range of range expanders. We determined the composition of fungi, bacteria and nematodes in these conditioned soils by high-throughput amplicon sequencing of the ITS region and the 16S rRNA gene and using morphological methods, respectively. Then we tested how these soil communities influence the growth of subsequent communities of range expanders and natives. 3. We found that after the conditioning phase soil bacterial, fungal and nematode communities differed by origin and by conditioning plant communities. Despite differences in bacterial, fungal and nematode communities between original and new range, soil origin did not influence the biomass production of plant communities. Both native and range expanding plant communities produced most aboveground biomass in soils that were conditioned by plant communities distantly related to them. 4. Synthesis. We conclude that communities of range-expanding plant species shape specific soil communities in both original and new range soil. Plant-soil interactions of range expanders in communities can be similar to the ones of their closely related native plant species.
Date made available16 Apr 2023
PublisherNetherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)


  • nematodes
  • plant-plant interactions
  • range shift

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