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Soils as agents of selection: feedbacks between plants and soils alter seedling survival and performance

Citation

Pregitzer, CC and Bailey, JK and Hart, SC and Schweitzer, JA, Soils as agents of selection: feedbacks between plants and soils alter seedling survival and performance, Evolutionary Ecology, 24, (5) pp. 1045-1059. ISSN 0269-7653 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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The final publication is available at http://www.springerlink.com

Official URL: http://www.springerlink.com/content/d073j18241983j...

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10682-010-9363-8

Abstract

Soils are one of the first selective environments a seed experiences and yet little is known about the evolutionary consequences of plant-soil feedbacks. We have previously found that plant phytochemical traits in a model system, Populus spp., influence rates of leaf litter decay, soil microbial communities and rates of soil net nitrogen mineralization. Utilizing this natural variation in plant-soil linkages we examined two related hypotheses: (1) Populus angustifolia seedlings are locally adapted to their native soils; and (2) Soils act as agents of selection, differentially affecting seedling survival and the heritability of plant traits. We conducted a greenhouse experiment by planting seedlings from 20 randomly collected P. angustifolia genetic families in soils conditioned by various Populus species and measured subsequent survival and performance. Even though P. angustifolia soils are less fertile overall, P. angustifolia seedlings grown in these soils were twice as likely to survive, grew 24% taller, had 27% more leaves, and 29% greater above-ground biomass than P. angustifolia seedlings grown in non-native P. fremontii or hybrid soils. Increased survival resulted in higher trait variation among seedlings in native soils compared to seedlings grown in non-native soils. Soil microbial biomass varied significantly across soil environments which could explain more of the variation in seedling performance than soil texture, pH, or nutrient availability, suggesting strong microbial interactions and feedbacks between plants, soils, and associated microorganisms. Overall, these data suggest that a home-field advantage or a positive plant soil feedback helps maintain genetic variance in P. angustifolia seedlings.Soils are one of the first selective environments a seed experiences and yet little is known about the evolutionary consequences of plant-soil feedbacks. We have previously found that plant phytochemical traits in a model system, Populus spp., influence rates of leaf litter decay, soil microbial communities and rates of soil net nitrogen mineralization. Utilizing this natural variation in plant-soil linkages we examined two related hypotheses: (1) Populus angustifolia seedlings are locally adapted to their native soils; and (2) Soils act as agents of selection, differentially affecting seedling survival and the heritability of plant traits. We conducted a greenhouse experiment by planting seedlings from 20 randomly collected P. angustifolia genetic families in soils conditioned by various Populus species and measured subsequent survival and performance. Even though P. angustifolia soils are less fertile overall, P. angustifolia seedlings grown in these soils were twice as likely to survive, grew 24% taller, had 27% more leaves, and 29% greater above-ground biomass than P. angustifolia seedlings grown in non-native P. fremontii or hybrid soils. Increased survival resulted in higher trait variation among seedlings in native soils compared to seedlings grown in non-native soils. Soil microbial biomass varied significantly across soil environments which could explain more of the variation in seedling performance than soil texture, pH, or nutrient availability, suggesting strong microbial interactions and feedbacks between plants, soils, and associated microorganisms. Overall, these data suggest that a home-field advantage or a positive plant soil feedback helps maintain genetic variance in P. angustifolia seedlings.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Genetic variation - Local adaptation - Narrowsense heritability - Plant-soil feedback - Populus - Selection - Soil microbial communities
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary Biology
Research Field:Evolutionary Biology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Soils
Objective Field:Forest and Woodlands Soils
Author:Bailey, JK (Associate Professor Joe Bailey)
Author:Schweitzer, JA (Dr Jen Schweitzer)
ID Code:67466
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:38
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2011-03-03
Last Modified:2011-05-13
Downloads:0

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