Persistence of plant-mediated microbial soil legacy effects in soil and inside roots

Emilia Hannula (Corresponding author), R. Heinen, M.D. Huberty, K. Steinauer, J. De Long, R. Jongen, T.M. Bezemer

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Plant-soil feedbacks are shaped by microbial legacies that plants leave in the soil. We tested the persistence of these legacies after subsequent colonization by the same or other plant species using 6 typical grassland plant species. Soil fungal legacies were detectable for months, but the current plant effect on fungi amplified in time. By contrast, in bacterial communities, legacies faded away rapidly and bacteria communities were influenced strongly by the current plant. However, both fungal and bacterial legacies were conserved inside the roots of the current plant species and their composition significantly correlated with plant growth. Hence, microbial soil legacies present at the time of plant establishment play a vital role in shaping plant growth even when these legacies have faded away in the soil due the growth of the current plant species. We conclude that soil microbiome legacies are reversible and versatile, but that they can create plant-soil feedbacks via altering the endophytic community acquired during early ontogeny.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5686
JournalNature Communications
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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