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A plant biodiversity effect resolved to a single chromosomal region


Wuest, Samuel E; Niklaus, Pascal A (2018). A plant biodiversity effect resolved to a single chromosomal region. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2(12):1933-1939.

Abstract

Despite extensive evidence that biodiversity promotes plant community productivity, progress towards understanding the mechanistic basis of this effect remains slow, impeding the development of predictive ecological theory and agricultural applications. Here, we analysed non-additive interactions between genetically divergent Arabidopsis accessions in experimental plant communities. By combining methods from ecology and quantitative genetics, we identify a major effect locus at which allelic differences between individuals increase the above-ground productivity of communities. In experiments with near-isogenic lines, we show that this diversity effect acts independently of other genomic regions and can be resolved to a single region representing less than 0.3% of the genome. Using plant–soil feedback experiments, we also demonstrate that allelic diversity causes genotype-specific soil legacy responses in a consecutive growing period, even after the original community has disappeared. Our work thus suggests that positive diversity effects can be linked to single Mendelian factors, and that a range of complex community properties can have a simple cause. This may pave the way to novel breeding strategies, focusing on phenotypic properties that manifest themselves beyond isolated individuals; that is, at a higher level of biological organization.

Abstract

Despite extensive evidence that biodiversity promotes plant community productivity, progress towards understanding the mechanistic basis of this effect remains slow, impeding the development of predictive ecological theory and agricultural applications. Here, we analysed non-additive interactions between genetically divergent Arabidopsis accessions in experimental plant communities. By combining methods from ecology and quantitative genetics, we identify a major effect locus at which allelic differences between individuals increase the above-ground productivity of communities. In experiments with near-isogenic lines, we show that this diversity effect acts independently of other genomic regions and can be resolved to a single region representing less than 0.3% of the genome. Using plant–soil feedback experiments, we also demonstrate that allelic diversity causes genotype-specific soil legacy responses in a consecutive growing period, even after the original community has disappeared. Our work thus suggests that positive diversity effects can be linked to single Mendelian factors, and that a range of complex community properties can have a simple cause. This may pave the way to novel breeding strategies, focusing on phenotypic properties that manifest themselves beyond isolated individuals; that is, at a higher level of biological organization.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2018
Deposited On:27 Feb 2019 13:14
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 09:44
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2397-334X
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0708-y

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