Publication: Root traits and belowground herbivores relate to plant–soil feedback variation among congeners

Published on
April 12, 2019

Plant–soil feedbacks contribute to vegetation dynamics by species-specific interactions between plants and soil biota. Variation in plant–soil feedbacks can be predicted by root traits, successional position, and plant nativeness.

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However, it is unknown whether closely related plant species develop more similar plant–soil feedbacks than more distantly related species. Using eight intra-continentally range-expanding and native Geranium species, we tested relations between phylogenetic distances, chemical and structural root traits, root microbiomes, and plant–soil feedbacks. We show that root chemistry and specific root length better predict bacterial and fungal community composition than phylogenetic distance. Negative plant–soil feedback strength correlates with root-feeding nematode numbers, whereas microbiome dissimilarity, nativeness, or phylogeny does not predict plant–soil feedbacks.