Intrapopulation genotypic variation in leaf litter chemistry does not control microbial abundance and litter mass loss in silver birch, Betula pendula
- 138 Downloads
Background and aims
Differences among plant genotypes can influence ecosystem functioning such as the rate of litter decomposition. Little is known, however, of the strength of genotypic links between litter quality, microbial abundance and litter decomposition within plant populations, or the likelihood that these processes are driven by natural selection.
We used 19 Betula pendula genotypes randomly selected from a local population in south-eastern Finland to establish a long-term, 35-month litter decomposition trial on forest ground. We analysed the effect of litter quality (N, phenolics and triterpenoids) of senescent leaves and decomposed litter on microbial abundance and litter mass loss.
We found that while litter quality and mass loss both had significant genotypic variation, the genotypic variation among silver birch trees in the quantity of bacterial and fungal DNA was marginal. In addition, although the quantity of bacterial DNA at individual tree level was negatively associated with most secondary metabolites of litter and positively with litter N, litter chemistry was not genotypically linked to litter mass loss.
Contrary to our expectations, these results suggest that natural selection may have limited influence on overall microbial DNA and litter decomposition rate in B. pendula populations by reworking the genetically controlled foliage chemistry of these populations.
KeywordsLitter quality Bacteria Fungi Phenolic compounds Nitrogen Triterpenoids Decomposition Natural selection
We thank Hanni Sikanen and Eeva Somerkoski for their help in the field work, Kaisa Soikkeli for her help in the laboratory work and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. The study was funded by the Academy of Finland (decision #1122444).
- Bardgett RD, Wardle DA (2010) Aboveground-belowground linkages. Biotic interactions, ecosystem processes, and global change. Oxford University Press Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Bryant JP, Clausen TP, Swihart RK, Landhäusser SM, Stevens MT, Hawkins CDB, Carrière S, Kirilenko AP, Veitch AM, Popko RA, Cleland DT, Williams JH, Jakubas WJ, Carlson MR, Lehmkuhl Bodony K, Cebrian M, Paragi TF, Picone PM, Moore JF, Packee EC, Malone T (2009) Fire drives transcontinental variation in tree birch defense against browsing by snowshoe hares. Am Nat 174:13–23CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Cornwell WK, Cornelissen JHC, Amatangelo K, Dorrepaal E, Eviner VT, Godoy O, Hobbie SE, Hoorens B, Kurokawa H, Pérez-Harguindeguy N, Quested HM, Santiago LS, Wardle DA, Wright IJ, Aerts R, Allison SD, Van Bodegom P, Brovkin V, Chatain A, Callaghan TV, Díaz S, Garnier E, Gurvich DE, Kazakou E, Klein JA, Read J, Reich PB, Soudzilovskaia NA, Vaieretti MV, Westoby M (2008) Plant species traits are the predominant control on litter decomposition rates within biomes worldwide. Ecol Lett 11:1065–1071CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Falconer DS, Mackay TFC (1996) Introduction to quantitative genetics. Longman, Harlow, Essex, UKGoogle Scholar
- Guerra FP, Richards JH, Fiehn O, Famula R, Stanton BJ, Shuren R, Sykes R, Davis MF, Neale DB (2016) Analysis of the genetic variation in growth, ecophysiology, and chemical and metabolomic composition of wood of Populus trichocarpa provenances. Tree Genet Genomes 12:6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-015-0965-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hagerman A (2002) The Tannin Handbook. Miami University, Oxford OH 45056. Available at: http://www.users.miamioh.edu/hagermae. Accessed 3 Oct 2016
- Heal OW, Anderson JM, Swift MJ (1997) Plant litter quality and decomposition: an historical overview. In: Cadish G, Giller KE (eds) Driven by nature: plant litter quality and decomposition. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 3–32Google Scholar
- Mikola J, Silfver T, Paaso U, Possen B, Rousi M (2018) Leaf N resorption efficiency and litter N mineralization rate have a genotypic trade-off in a silver birch population. Ecology. in pressGoogle Scholar
- Nordstokke D, Zumbo B (2007) A cautionary tale about levene’s tests for equal variances. JERPS 7:1–14Google Scholar
- Schweitzer J, Madritch M, Bailey J, LeRoy C, Fischer D, Rehill B, Lindroth R, Hagerman A, Wooley S, Hart S, Whitham T (2008b) From genes to ecosystems: the genetic basis of condensed tannins and their role in nutrient regulation in a Populus model system. Ecosystems 11:1005–1020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wardle DA (2002) Communities and ecosystems - linking the aboveground and belowground components. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Whitham TG, Bailey JK, Schweitzer JA, Shuster SM, Bangert RK, LeRoy CJ, Lonsdorf EV, Allan GJ, DiFazio SP, Potts BM, Fischer DG, Gehring CA, Lindroth RL, Marks JC, Hart SC, Wimp GM, Wooley SC (2006) A framework for community and ecosystem genetics: from genes to ecosystems. Nat Rev Genet 7:510–523CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar