Going underground: root traits as drivers of ecosystem processes

R.D. Bardgett, L. Mommer, F.T. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

466 Citations (Scopus)


Ecologists are increasingly adopting trait-based approaches to understand how community change influences ecosystem processes. However, most of this research has focussed on aboveground plant traits, whereas it is becoming clear that root traits are important drivers of many ecosystem processes, such as carbon (C) and nutrient cycling, and the formation and structural stability of soil. Here, we synthesise emerging evidence that illustrates how root traits impact ecosystem processes, and propose a pathway to unravel the complex roles of root traits in driving ecosystem processes and their response to global change. Finally, we identify research challenges and novel technologies to address them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-699
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • soil microbial communities
  • plant functional traits
  • climate-change
  • biogeochemical significance
  • nutrient-acquisition
  • carbon sequestration
  • economics spectrum
  • species richness
  • water transport
  • elevated co2

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