Globally consistent response of plant microbiome diversity across hosts and continents to soil nutrients and herbivores

Seabloom, Eric W. and Caldeira, Maria C. and Davies, Kendi F. and Kinkel, Linda and Knops, Johannes M. H. and Komatsu, Kimberly J. and MacDougall, Andrew S. and May, Georgiana and Millican, Michael and Moore, Joslin L. and Perez, Luis I. and Porath-Krause, Anita J. and Power, Sally A. and Prober, Suzanne M. and Risch, Anita C. and Stevens, Carly and Borer, Elizabeth T. (2023) Globally consistent response of plant microbiome diversity across hosts and continents to soil nutrients and herbivores. Nature Communications, 14 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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All multicellular organisms host a diverse microbiome composed of microbial pathogens, mutualists, and commensals, and changes in microbiome diversity or composition can alter host fitness and function. Nonetheless, we lack a general understanding of the drivers of microbiome diversity, in part because it is regulated by concurrent processes spanning scales from global to local. Global-scale environmental gradients can determine variation in microbiome diversity among sites, however an individual host’s microbiome also may reflect its local micro-environment. We fill this knowledge gap by experimentally manipulating two potential mediators of plant microbiome diversity (soil nutrient supply and herbivore density) at 23 grassland sites spanning global-scale gradients in soil nutrients, climate, and plant biomass. Here we show that leaf-scale microbiome diversity in unmanipulated plots depended on the total microbiome diversity at each site, which was highest at sites with high soil nutrients and plant biomass. We also found that experimentally adding soil nutrients and excluding herbivores produced concordant results across sites, increasing microbiome diversity by increasing plant biomass, which created a shaded microclimate. This demonstration of consistent responses of microbiome diversity across a wide range of host species and environmental conditions suggests the possibility of a general, predictive understanding of microbiome diversity.

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Journal Article
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Nature Communications
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Deposited On:
06 Jul 2023 09:30
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:27