Interactions between plants and soil microbes are important for plant growth and resistance. Through plant–soil‐feedbacks, growth of a plant is influenced by the previous plant that was growing in the same soil. We performed a plant–soil feedback study with 37 grass, forb and legume species, to condition the soil and then tested the effects of plant‐induced changes in soil microbiomes on the growth of the commercially important cut‐flower Chrysanthemum in presence and absence of a pathogen. We analysed the fungal and bacterial communities in these soils using next‐generation sequencing and examined their relationship with plant growth in inoculated soils with or without the root pathogen, Pythium ultimum. We show that a large part of the soil microbiome is plant species‐specific while a smaller part is conserved at the plant family level. We further identified clusters of plant species creating plant growth promoting microbiomes that suppress concomitantly plant pathogens. Especially soil inocula with higher relative abundances of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi caused positive effects on the Chrysanthemum growth when exposed to the pathogen. We conclude that plants differ greatly in how they influence the soil microbiome and that plant growth and protection against pathogens is associated with a complex soil microbial community.
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Structure and ecological function of the soil microbiome affecting plant-soil feedbacks in the presence of a soil-borne pathogen