Antagonistic interactions between above- and belowground biota reduce their negative effects on a tree species

Qiang Yang, Arjen Biere, Jeffrey A. Harvey, Jianqing Ding*, Evan Siemann

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Abstract

    Aims: Plants in nature are confronted by a variety of beneficial and antagonistic above- and belowground organisms, including leaf herbivores, soil fungi, and soil nematodes. While their individual effects are usually well studied, their joint effects on plant performance are less well known. Synergistic or antagonistic interactions between these organisms would mean that their joint effects on plant performance are more or less detrimental or beneficial than expected from their individual effects. Methods: We conducted a factorial greenhouse experiment in which we manipulated the presence of aboveground herbivores (weevils), soil nematodes, and soil fungi using addition (weevil) or removal (fungicide, nematicide) treatments to test how these groups of organisms alone and in combination affect Triadica sebifera biomass production, when grown individually or under intraspecific competition. Results: Soil fungi and aboveground weevils alone each strongly decreased plant root and total biomass. Interestingly, soil nematodes alone slightly reduced plant biomass but they mitigated the negative impacts of aboveground weevils, indicating antagonism in their effects on plant biomass. However, in the presence of soil fungi this antagonism was less pronounced, illustrating the complexity of interactive effects of aboveground and belowground biota on plant biomass. Aboveground herbivory increased nematode infections, but only in the absence of soil fungi. Intraspecific competition strongly enhanced nematode infection loads and slightly decreased T. sebifera root biomass but did not modulate the direction or the strength of interactions among these aboveground and belowground biota. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that joint effects of antagonistic above- and belowground biota on plant performance can be less detrimental than expected from their individual effects. These results highlight the importance of considering the roles of plant aboveground and belowground interactions from a systems perspective.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)379-393
    Number of pages15
    JournalPlant and Soil
    Volume454
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date7 Aug 2020
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

    Funding

    We thank Jia Liu for greenhouse experiment assistance. We thank Wim van der Putten for his advice and suggestions for manuscript. This work was supported by National Key Research and Development Program (YFC20171200100 to JD) and NSF-China (31770414 to JD), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. lzujbky-2020-cd01 to QY), and NSF-China (31700448 and 31870521 to QY).

    FundersFunder number
    NSF-China
    National Natural Science Foundation of China31770414
    National Key Research and Development Program of ChinaYFC20171200100
    Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universitieslzujbky-2020-cd01, 31870521, 31700448

      Keywords

      • Aboveground-belowground interactions
      • Antagonistic effects
      • Fungicide
      • Heterapoderopsis bicallosicollis
      • Meloidogyne incognita
      • Soil biota
      • Triadica sebifera

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