Rhizosphere and litter feedbacks to range-expanding plant species and related natives

  • M. Manrubia (Creator)
  • Wim van der Putten (Creator)
  • Carolin Weser (Creator)
  • Ciska G.F. Veen (Creator)



1. Plant-soil feedback (PSF) results from the net legacy effect that plants leave in the composition of soil communities and abiotic soil properties. PSF is induced by the rhizosphere and by litter inputs into the soil, however, we have little understanding of their individual contributions. Here, we examine feedback effects from the rhizosphere of living plants, decomposing litter, and their combination.
2. We used four pairs of climate warming-induced range-expanding plant species and congeneric natives, and examined PSF effects on plant biomass production, as well as on decomposition in their new range.
3. We tested the hypothesis that the plant rhizosphere provides less negative feedback to range-expanders than to the congeneric natives, and that feedback mediated by litter decomposition does not provide such a difference because decomposers might be less specialized than pathogens. To determine PSF, we used soil from the congener species within each pair as an “away” soil to indicate whether range-expanders may have lost their specialized soil biota upon arrival in the novel range.
4. Our results show that although range-expanding plant species and their congeneric natives developed neutral PSF in both rhizosphere- and litter-conditioned soils, two of the four range-expanders produced more biomass than natives in soils conditioned by litter, i.e. soils with high nutrient content. Shoot litter from two out of four range-expanding species decomposed more than that of natives, but decomposition was unaffected by soil conditioning.
5. Synthesis. We compared PSF effects of range expanders and congeneric natives mediated via both the rhizosphere and litter using the congeneric species as a control. Under those conditions, PSF effects were neutral and not affected by plant origin. Therefore, we conclude that studies not comparing within plant genera may overestimate the impact of plant origin on PSF. Still, even under those conditions range-expanders appeared to benefit more from high soil nutrient availability than natives, thus providing a possible advantage over congeneric natives.
Date made available1 Dec 2019

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