Aboveground plant metabolomic responses to plant-soil feedbacks and herbivory

M.D. Huberty (Corresponding author), Young Hae Choi, R. Heinen, T.M. Bezemer

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Understanding the causes of variation in foliar plant metabolomes is essential for
our understanding of ecological interactions between plants and other organisms.
It is well-accepted that foliar herbivory alters metabolites in leaves. However, soil
(micro)organisms can also induce such changes.
2. We generated plant-specific soil legacies by growing 12 plant species individually
in a common starting soil. Then we planted all plant species in all soils and exposed
a subset to foliar herbivory. We then used 1
H nuclear magnetic resonance to analyse the shoot metabolomes of all responding plants.
3. Above-ground herbivory and soil legacies altered shoot metabolomes. In most
plant species, soil legacy more strongly affected shoot metabolomes than foliar
4. Synthesis. Our results show that plant-induced changes in soil alter metabolomes
of plants that grow later in those soils. Such below-ground legacy effects can have
far-stretching consequences for above-ground multitrophic interactions as these
often depend on the plant chemical composition. Recently, plant–soil feedbacks
have received considerable attention in ecological studies, and our study now
highlights that these feedbacks can be an important determinant of the often unexplained intraspecific variation in chemical composition among plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1703-1712
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number4
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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