Belowground biodiversity effects of plant symbionts support aboveground productivity

Authors

  • Cameron Wagg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Ecological Farming Systems, Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon, Research Station ART, Reckenholzstrasse 191, CH-8046 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurestrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Jan Jansa,

    1. Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zürich, Eschikon 33, CH-8315 Lindau, Switzerland
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  • Bernhard Schmid,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zürich, Winterthurestrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland
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  • Marcel G. A. van der Heijden

    1. Ecological Farming Systems, Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon, Research Station ART, Reckenholzstrasse 191, CH-8046 Zürich, Switzerland
    2. Plant–Microbe Interactions, Institute of Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
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E-mail: cameron.wagg@art.admin.ch

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 1001–1009

Abstract

Soil microbes play key roles in ecosystems, yet the impact of their diversity on plant communities is still poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the diversity of belowground plant-associated soil fungi promotes plant productivity and plant coexistence. Using additive partitioning of biodiversity effects developed in plant biodiversity studies, we demonstrate that this positive relationship can be driven by complementarity effects among soil fungi in one soil type and by a selection effect resulting from the fungal species that stimulated plant productivity the most in another soil type. Selection and complementarity effects among fungal species contributed to improving plant productivity up to 82% and 85%, respectively, above the average of the respective fungal species monocultures depending on the soil in which they were grown. These results also indicate that belowground diversity may act as insurance for maintaining plant productivity under differing environmental conditions.

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