Root traits and belowground herbivores relate to plant-soil feedback variation among congeners

R.A. Wilschut (Corresponding author), W.H. van der Putten, P.V. Garbeva, Paula Harkes, Wouter Konings, P. Kulkarni, H.J. Martens, S. Geisen

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)
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Plant–soil feedbacks contribute to vegetation dynamics by species-specific interactions between plants and soil biota. Variation in plant–soil feedbacks can be predicted by root traits, successional position, and plant nativeness. However, it is unknown whether closely related plant species develop more similar plant–soil feedbacks than more distantly related species. Where previous comparisons included plant species from distant phylogenetic positions, we studied plant–soil feedbacks of congeneric species. Using eight intra-continentally range-expanding and native Geranium species, we tested relations between phylogenetic distances, chemical and structural root traits, root microbiomes, and plant–soil feedbacks. We show that root chemistry and specific root length better predict bacterial and fungal community composition than phylogenetic distance. Negative plant–soil feedback strength correlates with root-feeding nematode numbers, whereas microbiome dissimilarity, nativeness, or phylogeny does not predict plant–soil feedbacks. We conclude that root microbiome variation among congeners is best explained by root traits, and that root-feeding nematode abundances predict plant–soil feedbacks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1564(2019)
JournalNature Communications
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • national

Research theme

  • Disease ecology
  • Global environmental change
  • Microbiomes


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