Background and aims
Plants influence the soil they grow in, and this can alter the performance of other, later growing plants in the same soil. This is called plant-soil feedback and is usually tested with monospecific soils, i.e. soils that are conditioned by one plant species. Here, we test if plant-soil feedbacks of inocula consisting of mixtures of monospecific soils can be predicted from the effects of the component inocula.

Chrysanthemum plants were grown in sterile soil inoculated with eight monospecific conditioned soils and with mixtures consisting of all pairwise combinations. Plant biomass and leaf yellowness were measured and the additivity was calculated.

On average, plant biomass in the mixed inocula was slightly but significantly (6%) lower than predicted. In contrast, when growing in mixed inocula, plants showed 38% less disease symptoms than predicted. Moreover, the larger the difference between the effects of the two monospecific soils on plant growth, the higher the observed effect in the mixture exceeded the predicted effects.

We show that mixed monospecific soils interact antagonistically in terms of plant growth, but synergistically for disease symptoms. Our study further advances our understanding of plant-soil feedbacks, and suggests that mixing soils can be a powerful tool to steer soil microbiomes to improve plant-soil feedback effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-279
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • national

ID: 6617166