Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1002/ece3.2454
Title (Primary) Root exudate cocktails: the link between plant diversity and soil microorganisms?
Author Steinauer, K.; Chatzinotas, A.; Eisenhauer, N.
Journal Ecology and Evolution
Year 2016
Department UMB; iDiv
Volume 6
Issue 20
Page From 7387
Page To 7396
Language englisch
Keywords aboveground–belowground interactions; biodiversity–ecosystem functioning; Jena Experiment; rhizodeposition; soil microbial biomass; soil microbial communities
UFZ wide themes RU1;
Abstract Higher plant diversity is often associated with higher soil microbial biomass and diversity, which is assumed to be partly due to elevated root exudate diversity. However, there is little experimental evidence that diversity of root exudates shapes soil microbial communities. We tested whether higher root exudate diversity enhances soil microbial biomass and diversity in a plant diversity gradient, thereby negating significant plant diversity effects on soil microbial properties. We set up plant monocultures and two- and three-species mixtures in microcosms using functionally dissimilar plants and soil of a grassland biodiversity experiment in Germany. Artificial exudate cocktails were added by combining the most common sugars, organic acids, and amino acids found in root exudates. We applied four different exudate cocktails: two exudate diversity levels (low- and high-diversity) and two nutrient-enriched levels (carbon- and nitrogen-enriched), and a control with water only. Soil microorganisms were more carbon- than nitrogen-limited. Cultivation-independent fingerprinting analysis revealed significantly different soil microbial communities among exudate diversity treatments. Most notably and according to our hypothesis, adding diverse exudate cocktails negated the significant plant diversity effect on soil microbial properties. Our findings provide the first experimental evidence that root exudate diversity is a crucial link between plant diversity and soil microorganisms.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Steinauer, K., Chatzinotas, A., Eisenhauer, N. (2016):
Root exudate cocktails: the link between plant diversity and soil microorganisms?
Ecol. Evol. 6 (20), 7387 - 7396