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Effects of global warming on plant diversity-soil carbon relationships and implications for assembly of plant-associated microbiomes

Sarah Castle: Department of Plant Pathology/University of Minnesota

<div>Soil microbial community responses to climate change, though critical to plant health, remain a significant gap in our ecological understanding. In this study we sampled rhizosphere soils from two plant species (<i>Andropogon gerardii</i> and <i>Lespedeza capitata</i>) within a 9-year factorial plant diversity <b>×</b> warming experiment in central Minnesota, USA. We used amplicon sequencing of bacteria and fungi and molecular analysis of soil carbon to enhance our mechanistic understanding of warming-related shifts in soil carbon and its role(s) in mediating microbial community assembly and species interactions. Warming reduced microbial OTU richness, but reductions were greater in monoculture than polyculture plots. Similarly, soil C chemical diversity changed significantly with warming in monoculture, but not polyculture. However, warming-related shifts in microbial communities were not directly related to soil C chemical richness or composition. Finally, warming led to consistent shifts in fungal composition, though shifts in microbial taxa differed with plant species richness and identity. These data suggest a potential role of plant diversity and plant host in mediating effects of warming on populations of soil microbes. Such shifts in soil microbiomes represent a potentially important feedback to plant health and productivity under future climate warming.</div>