Introduced exotic plant species that originate from other continents are known to alter soil microbial community composition and nutrient cycling. Plant species that expand range to higher latitudes and altitudes as a consequence of current climate warming might as well affect the composition and functioning of native soil communities in their new range. However, the functional consequences of plant origin have been poorly studied in the case of plant range shifts. Here, we determined rhizosphere bacterial communities of four intracontinental range-expanding plant species in comparison with their four congeneric natives grown in soils collected from underneath those plant species in the field and in soils that are novel to them. We show that, when controlling for both species relatedness and soil characteristics, range-expanding plant species in higher latitude ecosystems will influence soil bacterial community composition and nutrient cycling in a manner similar to congeneric related native species. Our results highlight the importance to include phylogenetically controlled comparisons to disentangle the effect of origin from the effect of contrasting plant traits in the context of exotic plant species.
Bacterial community sequencing in the rhizosphere soil of range-expanding and native plants in the Netherlands