Sick plants in grassland communities: a growth-defense trade-off is the main driver of fungal pathogen abundance and impact

Cappelli, Seraina L.; Pichon, Noémie A.; Kempel, Anne; Allan, Eric (October 2019). Sick plants in grassland communities: a growth-defense trade-off is the main driver of fungal pathogen abundance and impact (bioRxiv 806299). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 10.1101/806299

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Aboveground fungal pathogens can substantially reduce biomass production in grasslands. However, we lack a mechanistic understanding of the drivers of fungal infection and impact. Using a global change biodiversity experiment we show that the trade-off between plant growth and defense is the main determinant of fungal infection in grasslands. Nitrogen addition only indirectly increased infection via shifting plant communities towards more fast growing species. Plant diversity did not decrease infection, likely because the spillover of generalist pathogens or dominance of susceptible species counteracted dilution effects. There was also evidence that fungal pathogens reduced biomass more strongly in diverse communities. Further, fungicide altered plant-pathogen interactions beyond just removing pathogens, probably by removing certain fungi more efficiently than others. Our results show that fungal pathogens have large effects on plant functional composition and biomass production and highlight the importance of considering changes in pathogen community composition to understand their effects.

Item Type:

Working Paper

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biodiversity

UniBE Contributor:

Cappelli, Seraina Lisa; Pichon, Noémie Anna; Kempel, Anne Sybille and Allan, Eric

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

Series:

bioRxiv

Publisher:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2019 15:43

Last Modified:

04 Nov 2019 15:43

Publisher DOI:

10.1101/806299

Uncontrolled Keywords:

fungi, infection, pathogen, growth-defense trade-off, grassland, biodiversity experiment, exclusion experiment, specific leaf area, nitrogen, diversity, fungicide

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.134299

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/134299

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