12,000

We have over 12,000 students, from over 100 countries, within one of the safest campuses in the UK

93%

93% of Lancaster students go into work or further study within six months of graduating

Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Plant species richness, identity and productivi...
View graph of relations

« Back

Plant species richness, identity and productivity differentially influence key groups of microbes in grassland soils of contrasting fertility

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date23/02/2011
JournalBiology Letters
Journal number1
Volume7
Number of pages4
Pages75-78
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The abundance of microbes in soil is thought to be strongly influenced by plant productivity rather than by plant species richness per se. However, whether this holds true for different microbial groups and under different soil conditions is unresolved. We tested how plant species richness, identity and biomass influence the abundances of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), saprophytic bacteria and fungi, and actinomycetes, in model plant communities in soil of low and high fertility using phospholipid fatty acid analysis. Abundances of saprophytic fungi and bacteria were driven by larger plant biomass in high diversity treatments. In contrast, increased AMF abundance with larger plant species richness was not explained by plant biomass, but responded to plant species identity and was stimulated by Anthoxantum odoratum. Our results indicate that the abundance of saprophytic soil microbes is influenced more by resource quantity, as driven by plant production, while AMF respond more strongly to resource composition, driven by variation in plant species richness and identity. This suggests that AMF abundance in soil is more sensitive to changes in plant species diversity per se and plant species composition than are abundances of saprophytic microbes.