Phylogenetic relatedness, phenotypic similarity and plant-soil feedback

potted plants in a greenhouse
Monday, January 9, 2017 - 7:53am

If you've ever tried gardening, you'll know that soil matters. Soil properties such as nutrient availability, pH, and the resident microbes and invertebrates can affect plant growth. Plants themselves can also alter these soil properties, giving rise to feedbacks between plants and soil. Plant-soil feedbacks influence some of the most fundamental terrestrial processes - productivity, succession, and the maintenance of diversity - though we still lack a basic understanding of their causes. PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) recently investigated how phylogenetic relatedness and phenotypic similarity among co-occurring plant species influence the strength of their soil feedbacks. He discovered a complex story that highlights the importance of plant traits and evolutionary history in explaining interactions between plants and soil. Connor’s results were recently published in his paper “Phylogenetic relatedness, phenotypic similarity and plant-soil feedback” in Journal of Ecology.

Congratulations on this important paper, Connor!