Rooting theories of plant community ecology in microbial interactions

Document Type

Journal Article




Computing, Health and Science


Natural Sciences/Centre for Ecosystem Management




This article was originally published as: Bever, J., Dickie, I., Facelli, E., Facelli, J., Klironomos, J., Moora, M., Rillig, M., Stock, W. D., Tibbett, M., & Zobel, M. (2010). Rooting theories of plant community ecology in microbial interactions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25(8), 468-478. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25, 8, 2010 DOI#” .


Predominant frameworks for understanding plant ecology have an aboveground bias that neglects soil micro-organisms. This is inconsistent with recent work illustrating the importance of soil microbes in terrestrial ecology. Microbial effects have been incorporated into plant community dynamics using ideas of niche modification and plant–soil community feedbacks. Here, we expand and integrate qualitative conceptual models of plant niche and feedback to explore implications of microbial interactions for understanding plant community ecology. At the same time we review the empirical evidence for these processes. We also consider common mycorrhizal networks, and propose that these are best interpreted within the feedback framework. Finally, we apply our integrated model of niche and feedback to understanding plant coexistence, monodominance and invasion ecology.



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