Biogeographic differences in plant–soil biota relationships contribute to the exotic range expansion of Verbascum thapsus

Julia Dieskau, Helge Bruelheide, Jessica Gutknecht, Alexandra Erfmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Exotic plant species can evolve adaptations to environmental conditions in the exotic range. Furthermore, soil biota can foster exotic spread in the absence of negative soil pathogen–plant interactions or because of increased positive soil biota–plant feedbacks in the exotic range. Little is known, however, about the evolutionary dimension of plant–soil biota interactions when comparing native and introduced ranges. To assess the role of soil microbes for rapid evolution in plant invasion, we subjected Verbascum thapsus, a species native to Europe, to a reciprocal transplant experiment with soil and seed material originating from Germany (native) and New Zealand (exotic). Soil samples were treated with biocides to distinguish between effects of soil fungi and bacteria. Seedlings from each of five native and exotic populations were transplanted into soil biota communities originating from all populations and subjected to treatments of soil biota reduction: application of (a) fungicide, (b) biocide, (c) a combination of the two, and (d) control. For most of the investigated traits, native populations showed higher performance than exotic populations; there was no effect of soil biota origin. However, plants developed longer leaves and larger rosettes when treated with their respective home soil communities, indicating that native and exotic plant populations differed in their interaction with soil biota origin. The absence of fungi and bacteria resulted in a higher specific root length, suggesting that V. thapsus may compensate the absence of mutualistic microbes by increasing its root–soil surface contact. Synthesis. Introduced plants can evolve adaptations to soil biota in their new distribution range. This demonstrates the importance of biogeographic differences in plant–soil biota relationships and suggests that future studies addressing evolutionary divergence should account for differential effects of soil biota from the home and exotic range on native and exotic populations of successful plant invaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13057-13070
Number of pages14
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume10
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the use of data drawn from the WorldClim?Global Climate Database. We thank R. Hofmann and his team (Lincoln University) for field support in NZ, just as I; and Merbach and team members (UFZ, Bad Lauchst?dt) for practical support in Germany. M. Korver (Manaaki Whenua?Landcare Research Institute) and S. Stilwell (Lincoln University, NZ) provided valuable shipping assistance. We are grateful to R. Reuter, G. Seidler, M. Hock, E. Grimm, A. Zeuner, and C. Plos for assistance in seed material acquaintance and support during the experiment. J. Kalwij provided valuable comments on the manuscript. J.D. was financially supported with a travel grant from the German National Academic Foundation. We acknowledge the financial support within the funding programme Open Access Publishing by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Open access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the use of data drawn from the WorldClim—Global Climate Database. We thank R. Hofmann and his team (Lincoln University) for field support in NZ, just as I; and Merbach and team members (UFZ, Bad Lauchstädt) for practical support in Germany. M. Korver (Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research Institute) and S. Stilwell (Lincoln University, NZ) provided valuable shipping assistance. We are grateful to R. Reuter, G. Seidler, M. Hock, E. Grimm, A. Zeuner, and C. Plos for assistance in seed material acquaintance and support during the experiment. J. Kalwij provided valuable comments on the manuscript. J.D. was financially supported with a travel grant from the German National Academic Foundation. We acknowledge the financial support within the funding programme Open Access Publishing by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • common mullein
  • exotic soil biota exclusion
  • home-away comparison
  • non-native alien weeds
  • plant–soil feedback
  • reciprocal transplant experiment
  • soil sterilization

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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