Does plant community plasticity mediate microbial homeostasis?

Kate M. Buckeridge, Jennie R. McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Microbial homeostasis - constant microbial element ratios along resource gradients – is a core ecological tenet, yet not all systems display homeostasis. We suggest investigations of homeostasis mechanisms must also consider plant-microbial interactions. Specifically, we hypothesized that ecosystems with strong plant community plasticity to changing resources will have homeostatic microbial communities, with less microbial resource cost, because plants reduce variance in resource stoichiometry. Using long-term nutrient additions in two ecosystems with differing plant response we fail to support our hypothesis because although homeostasis appears stronger in the system with stronger plant response, microbial mechanisms were also stronger. However, our conclusions were undermined by high heterogeneity in resources, which
may be common in ecosystem-level studies, and methodological assumptions may be exacerbated by shifting plant communities. We propose our study as a starting point for further ecosystem-scale investigations, with higher replication to address microbial and soil variability, and improved insight into microbial assimilable resources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Early online date24 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • stoichiometry
  • plant-microbe interactions
  • long-term fertilization
  • extracellular enzymes
  • carbon use efficiency

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