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Effects of between-site variation in soil microbial communities and plant-soil feedbacks on the productivity and composition of plant communities

Published on Aug 1, 2017in Journal of Applied Ecology5.782
· DOI :10.1111/1365-2664.12937
Jonathan T. Bauer15
Estimated H-index: 15
(IU: Indiana University),
Noah Blumenthal1
Estimated H-index: 1
(IU: Indiana University Bloomington)
+ 2 AuthorsHeather L. Reynolds27
Estimated H-index: 27
(IU: Indiana University)
Sources
Abstract
Summary A critical challenge in the science and practice of restoration ecology is to understand the drivers of variation in restoration outcomes. Soil microbial communities may have a role in explaining this variation due to both site-to-site variation in the composition of soil microbial communities and due to variation that can arise due to plant-soil feedbacks. We tested the relative importance of between-site variation in soil microbial community composition and plant-soil feedbacks in shaping plant community composition and ecosystem function. We used a standard two-phase plant-soil feedback design. Soil inoculum was collected from four tallgrass prairie sites. Then, soils were conditioned separately with nine plant species, and conditioned soils were used to inoculate prairie community mesocosms. In a separate experiment using soil from an additional site we tested conditioned soil samples for the abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and rhizobia. Site of soil origin and plant-soil feedbacks both had effects on the composition and productivity of our plant communities, and the magnitudes of these effects were similar. We also found changes in the abundance of AMF and rhizobia due to plant-soil feedbacks and that AMF abundance were associated with differences in plant community composition. These results indicate that the composition of soil communities due to site-to-site variation and plant-soil feedbacks are both important determinants of plant community composition and productivity. Our results also suggest that AMF and rhizobia are key microbial functional groups underlying plant-soil feedback effects. Synthesis and applications. Site-to-site variation in soil communities can explain some variation in restoration of plant communities. Since plant-soil feedback effects of restored plant species do not overcome this variation, knowledge of soil microbial communities present at a site prior to initiation of restoration efforts may improve predictability of restoration outcomes, and reintroduction of some components of the soil community may be necessary to achieve restoration goals. Additionally, by understanding variation due to plant-soil feedbacks, restoration practitioners can choose plant species for reintroduction that will create favourable soil conditions, including promoting microbial mutualists. Plant-soil feedbacks should also make it possible to increase heterogeneity in soil microbial communities, leading to increases in beta diversity in plant communities.
  • References (48)
  • Citations (9)
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References48
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#1Lars A. Brudvig (MSU: Michigan State University)H-Index: 27
#2Rebecca S. Barak (NU: Northwestern University)H-Index: 6
Last. Chad R. Zirbel (MSU: Michigan State University)H-Index: 7
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Summary Ecological restoration is a global priority that holds great potential for benefiting natural ecosystems, but restoration outcomes are notoriously unpredictable. Resolving this unpredictability represents a major, but critical challenge to the science of restoration ecology. In an effort to move restoration ecology toward a more predictive science, we consider the key issue of variability. Typically, restoration outcomes vary relative to goals (i.e. reference or desired future conditions...
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#1Andrew Kulmatiski (USU: Utah State University)H-Index: 25
#2Karen H. Beard (USU: Utah State University)H-Index: 30
Last. J. Heavilin (USU: Utah State University)H-Index: 7
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It has become clear that plants can create soils that affect subsequent plant growth. However, because plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) are typically measured in monoculture experiments, it remains unclear to what extent PSFs affect plant growth in communities. Here we used data from a factorial PSF experiment to predict the biomass of 12 species grown in 162 plant community combinations. Five different plant growth models were parameterized with either monoculture biomass data (Null) or with PSF dat...
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#1E. R. Jasper Wubs (WUR: Wageningen University and Research Centre)H-Index: 10
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Intensive agricultural activity can degrade ecosystems, and restoration takes decades. This field study shows that soil inocula promote ecosystem restoration, and different inocula (such as grassland/heathland) can steer restoration towards different targets.
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#1Wim H. van der Putten (WUR: Wageningen University and Research Centre)H-Index: 64
#2Mark A. Bradford (Yale University)H-Index: 54
Last. G. F. (Ciska) VeenH-Index: 16
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Summary It is increasingly acknowledged that plant–soil feedbacks may play an important role in driving the composition of plant communities and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. However, the mechanistic understanding of plant–soil feedbacks, as well as their roles in natural ecosystems in proportion to other possible drivers, is still in its infancy. Such knowledge will enhance our capacity to determine the contribution of plant–soil feedback to community and ecosystem responses under glob...
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Highly diverse microbial assemblages colonize plant roots. It is still poorly understood whether different members of this root microbiome act synergistically by supplying different services (for example, different limiting nutrients) to plants and plant communities. In order to test this, we manipulated the presence of two widespread plant root symbionts, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria in model grassland communities established in axenic microcosms. Here, we ...
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Last. James D. Bever (IU: Indiana University)H-Index: 56
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Soil microbial communities contribute to ecosystem function and structure plant communities, but are altered by anthropogenic disturbance. Successful restoration may require microbial community restoration. Inoculation of plants with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) may improve ecological restoration, but AMF species that are locally adapted to native plant communities are often unavailable and commercially propagated AMF are not necessarily locally adapted to the desired plant community targe...
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#1Mia R. Maltz (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 7
#2Kathleen K. Treseder (UCI: University of California, Irvine)H-Index: 55
Inoculation may influence mycorrhizal colonization and provide benefits to plants in restoration projects. However, it is unclear whether inoculation has consistent effects across ecosystem types, if it has long-term effects on colonization, and whether sources of inocula differ in their effectiveness. To address these issues, we performed a meta-analysis of published restoration studies across a variety of ecosystems to examine the effects of mycorrhizal inoculation on mycorrhizal establishment...
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#1Jonathan T. Bauer (IU: Indiana University Bloomington)H-Index: 15
#2Keenan M. L. Mack (National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis)H-Index: 7
Last. James D. Bever (IU: Indiana University Bloomington)H-Index: 56
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Plant-soil feedbacks can contribute to the coexistence of plant species and may predict the abundance of plant species within communities. Here, we test if plant-soil feedbacks act as drivers of secondary succession. We found that the strength of feedback experienced by a plant species was positively correlated with that species' successional stage, indicating that plant-soil feedbacks can contribute to shifts in plant species abundance during succession. We did not observe a significant relatio...
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Soil microbial communities can have an important role in the adaptation of plants to their local abiotic soil conditions and in mediating plant responses to environmental stress. This has been clearly demonstrated for individual plant species, but it is unknown how locally adapted microbes may affect plant communities. It is possible that the adaptation of microbial communities to local conditions can shape plant community composition. Additionally, it is possible that the effects of locally ada...
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