Lancaster EPrints

The unseen majority: soil microbes as drivers of plant diversity and productivity in terrestrial ecosystems.

van der Heijden, Marcel G. A. and Bardgett, Richard D. and van Straalen, Nico M. (2008) The unseen majority: soil microbes as drivers of plant diversity and productivity in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters, 11 (3). pp. 296-310. ISSN 1461-023X

Full text not available from this repository.

Abstract

Microbes are the unseen majority in soil and comprise a large portion of life's genetic diversity. Despite their abundance, the impact of soil microbes on ecosystem processes is still poorly understood. Here we explore the various roles that soil microbes play in terrestrial ecosystems with special emphasis on their contribution to plant productivity and diversity. Soil microbes are important regulators of plant productivity, especially in nutrient poor ecosystems where plant symbionts are responsible for the acquisition of limiting nutrients. Mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria are responsible for c. 5–20% (grassland and savannah) to 80% (temperate and boreal forests) of all nitrogen, and up to 75% of phosphorus, that is acquired by plants annually. Free-living microbes also strongly regulate plant productivity, through the mineralization of, and competition for, nutrients that sustain plant productivity. Soil microbes, including microbial pathogens, are also important regulators of plant community dynamics and plant diversity, determining plant abundance and, in some cases, facilitating invasion by exotic plants. Conservative estimates suggest that c. 20 000 plant species are completely dependent on microbial symbionts for growth and survival pointing to the importance of soil microbes as regulators of plant species richness on Earth. Overall, this review shows that soil microbes must be considered as important drivers of plant diversity and productivity in terrestrial ecosystems.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology Letters
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biological diversity and ecosystem functioning • microbial consortia • microbial diversity • mycorrhizal fungi • nitrogen • nitrogen fixation • phosphorus • soil
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 10346
Deposited By: Prof Richard Bardgett
Deposited On: 14 Jul 2008 08:56
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:49
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10346

Actions (login required)

View Item