Associational resistance to nematodes and its effects on interspecific interactions among grassland plants.

Xiangyu Liu (Corresponding author), C.E. Raaijmakers, Klaas Vrieling, Suzanne T.E. Lommen, T.M. Bezemer

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Plants can influence the level of herbivory experienced by neighboring plants. The importance of such belowground associational effects are poorly understood. In this study we examine whether Jacobaea vulgaris provides associational resistance against nematodes to neighboring plants.

Thirteen species (6 forbs, 3 grasses and 4 legumes) were each grown in mixtures with J. vulgaris and in monocultures. A nematode community was introduced to half of the pots. After 12 weeks, plant dry mass was assessed for each individual plant in each pot, and the number of nematodes in the soil and roots were identified. We then examined for each plant species its performance in mixtures and in monocultures, in presence and absence of nematodes and analyzed the abundance and composition of nematodes.

Forbs produced more, grasses similar, and legumes less biomass in mixtures with J. vulgaris than in monocultures. Nematode addition did not influence biomass. There were fewer root-feeding nematodes in the soil in mixtures than in monocultures, but this was only true for plants that were good hosts for nematodes. The community composition of soil nematodes was different in monocultures and mixtures. Densities of migratory endoparasitic nematodes in the roots of neighboring plants were lower in mixtures than in monocultures. Moreover, the presence of nematodes changed the outcome of plant-plant interactions, often in favor of J. vulgaris.

Jacobaea vulgaris provides belowground associational resistance to other plants against migratory endoparasitic nematodes, and the presence of nematodes can change the outcome of plant-plant interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591–607
Number of pages17
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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