Disentangling nematode and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal community effect on the growth of range-expanding Centaurea stoebe in original and new range soil.
Aims: Numerous organisms show range expansions in response to current climate change. Differences in expansion rates, such as between plants and soil biota, may lead to altered interactions in the new compared to the original range. While plant-soil interactions influence plant performance and stress tolerance, the roles of specific soil organisms driving these responses remain unknown. Methods: We manipulated the abundances of nematodes and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), collected from original and new range soils, and examined their effects on the biomass of range-expanding Centaurea stoebe and native Centaurea jacea. In the first approach, nematode and AMF communities were extracted from field soils, and inoculated to sterilized soil. In the second approach, the abundance of soil organisms in soil inocula was reduced by wet sieving; at first, plants were grown to condition the soil, and then plant-soil feedback was determined under ambient and drought conditions. Results: The origin of soil communities did not influence the biomass production of range-expanding or native plant species, neither by addition nor by (partial) removal. However, after conditioning and under drought, range expanding C. stoebe produced more biomass with soil communities from the original range while C. jacea, native to both ranges, produced more biomass with new range soil communities. Conclusions: We show that nematode and AMF communities from original and new range have similar effect on the growth of range expanding C. stoebe. Our results highlight that the effect of soil communities on plant growth increases after soil conditioning and under drought stress.