The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plants

Joana Bergmann, Alexandra Weigelt, Fons Plas van der, L. Mommer, J. van Ruijven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Plant economics run on carbon and nutrients instead of money. Leaf strategies aboveground span an economic spectrum from “live fast and die young” to “slow and steady,” but the economy defined by root strategies belowground remains unclear. Here, we take a holistic view of the belowground economy and show that root-mycorrhizal collaboration can short circuit a one-dimensional economic spectrum, providing an entire space of economic possibilities.Root trait data from 1810 species across the globe confirm a classical fast-slow “conservation” gradient but show that most variation is explained by an orthogonal “collaboration” gradient, ranging from “do-it-yourself”resource uptake to “outsourcing” of resource uptake to mycorrhizal fungi. This broadened “root economics space”provides a solid foundation for predictive understanding of belowground responses to changing environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaba3756
Number of pages9
JournalScience Advances
Volume6
Issue number27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

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