An increasing number of studies reports plant range expansions to higher latitudes and altitudes in response to global warming. However, consequences for interactions with other species in the novel ranges are poorly understood. Here, we examine how range-expanding plant species interact with root-feeding nematodes from the new range. Root-feeding nematodes are ubiquitous belowground herbivores that may impact the structure and composition of natural vegetation. Because of their ecological novelty, we hypothesized that range-expanding plant species will be less suitable hosts for root-feeding nematodes than native congeneric plant species. In greenhouse and lab trials we compared nematode preference and performance of two root-feeding nematode species between range-expanding plant species and their congeneric natives. In order to understand differences in nematode preferences, we compared root volatile profiles of all range expanders and congeneric natives. Nematode preferences and performances differed substantially among the pairs of range-expanders and natives. The range-expander that had the most unique volatile profile compared to its related native was unattractive and a poor host for nematodes. Other range-expanding plant species that differed less in root chemistry from native congeners, also differed less in nematode attraction and performance. We conclude that the three climate-driven range-expanding plant species studied varied considerably in their chemical novelty compared to their congeneric natives, and therefore affected native root-feeding nematodes in species-specific ways. Our data suggest that through variation in chemical novelty, range-expanding plant species may vary in their impacts on belowground herbivores in the new range.
Wilschut, R. A., Silva, J. C. P., Garbeva, P. V., & van der Putten, W. H. (2017). Belowground plant-herbivore interactions vary among climate-driven range-expanding plant species with different degrees of novel chemistry. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8, [fpls.2017.01861]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.01861