Description

1. Plant–soil feedback (PSF) effects on plant performance strongly depend on the plant species that conditioned the soil. Recent studies have shown that PSF can change above-ground plant–insect interactions via soil-mediated changes in plant quality, but whether these effects depend on species-specific soil conditioning is unknown. We examined how PSF effects of several plant species influence above-ground plant–aphid interactions. 2. We grew ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris) in field soil conditioned specifically by 10 plant species, belonging to three functional groups (grasses, forbs and legumes), in a multispecies mixture of the conditioned soils and in control (unconditioned) field soil. We measured plant biomass, concentrations of primary (amino acids) and secondary (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) metabolites in phloem exudates, and performance of the generalist aphid Brachycaudus cardui and the specialist Aphis jacobaeae. 3. We observed that plant species, via species-specific effects on soil fungal communities, exerted unique plant–soil effects on J. vulgaris biomass, amino acid concentrations in phloem exudates and aphid performance. The direction and magnitude of the species-specific PSF effects on aphid performance differed between both aphid species. PSF effects on soil fungal communities, plant biomass and A. jacobaeae performance also differed between grasses, forbs and legumes, with soil conditioning by forbs resulting in lowest plant biomass and aphid performance. 4. Synthesis. Our study provides novel evidence that PSF effects on above-ground plant–insect interactions are highly species specific. Our results add a new dimension to the rapidly developing research fields of PSF and above-below-ground interactions, and highlights that these fields are tightly linked.
Date made available02 Apr 2015
PublisherDryad

ID: 2742490