Exogenous application of plant defense hormones alters the effects of live soils on plant performance

Jing Zhang (Corresponding author), Klaas Vrieling, Peter G.L. Klinkhamer, T.M. Bezemer

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Abstract

The overall effect of a live soil inoculum collected from nature on plant biomass is often negative. One hypothesis to explain this phenomenon is that the overall net pathogenic effect of soil microbial communities reduces plant performance. Induced plant defenses triggered by the application of the plant hormones jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid (SA) may help to mitigate this pathogenic effect of live soil. However, little is known about how such hormonal application to the plant affects the soil and how this, in turn, impacts plant growth. We grew four plant species in sterilized and inoculated live soil and exposed their leaves to two hormonal treatments (JA and SA). Two species (Jacobaea vulgaris and Cirsium vulgare) were negatively affected by soil inoculation. In these two species foliar application of SA increased biomass in live soil but not in sterilized soil. Two other species (Trifolium repens and Daucus carota) were not affected by soil inoculum and for these two species foliar application of SA reduced plant biomass in both the sterilized and live soil. Application of JA reduced plant biomass in both soils for all species. We subsequently carried out a multiple generation experiment for one of the plant species, J. vulgaris. In each generation, the live soil was a mixture of 10% soil from the previous generation and 90% sterilized soil and the same hormonal treatments were applied. The negative effects of live soil on plant biomass were similar in all four generations, and this negative effect was mitigated by the application of SA. Our research suggests that the application of SA can mitigate the negative effects of live soil on plant growth. Although the inoculum of soil containing a natural live soil microbial community had a strong negative effect on the growth of J. vulgaris, we found no evidence for an increase or decrease in negative plant-soil feedback in either the control or the SA treated plants. Also plant performance did not decrease consistently with succeeding generations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-155
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Volume56
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • national
  • Plan_S-Compliant_OA

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