Plant diversity can promote several ecosystem functions, but the underlying role of plant-soil organism interactions in the promotion of these ecosystem services remains poorly investigated.
The aim of our subproject is to investigate the role of soil microorganisms in affecting plant growth responses along the plant diversity gradient of the Jena Experiment.
- First, we investigate how specific soil microbial communities of pathogens, symbiotic mutualists and decomposers are structured across plant communities (composed of 1 to 60 species) using molecular, biochemical, morphological and functional identification of soil bacteria, fungi and nematodes.
- Secondly, we study feedback effects of plant community-specific soil communities on the productivity, structure and dynamics of experimental plant monocultures and plant species mixtures. It will enhance our understanding on the role of plant-soil organism interactions in modifying plant species abundance distributions and dynamics, as well as the stability of productivity over time.