Plant Secondary Compounds in Soil and Their Role in Belowground Species Interactions

Bodil K. Ehlers, Matty P. Berg, Michael Staudt, Martin Holmstrup, Marianne Glasius, Jacintha Ellers, Sara Tomiolo, René B. Madsen, Stine Slotsbo, Josep Penuelas*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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    Knowledge of the effect of plant secondary compounds (PSCs) on belowground interactions in the more diffuse community of species living outside the rhizosphere is sparse compared with what we know about how PSCs affect aboveground interactions. We illustrate here that PSCs from foliar tissue, root exudates, and leaf litter effectively influence such belowground plant–plant, plant–microorganism, and plant–soil invertebrate interactions. Climatic factors can induce PSC production and select for different plant chemical types. Therefore, climate change can alter both quantitative and qualitative PSC production, and how these compounds move in the soil. This can change the soil chemical environment, with cascading effects on both the ecology and evolution of belowground species interactions and, ultimately, soil functioning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)716-730
    Number of pages15
    JournalTrends In Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number8
    Early online date12 May 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


    • aboveground-belowground interactions
    • chemical ecology
    • climate change
    • soil functioning
    • soil organisms


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