Skip to main content
Dryad logo

The soil microbial community alters patterns of selection on flowering time and fitness‐related traits in Ipomoea purpurea


Chaney, Lindsay; Baucom, Regina S. (2020), The soil microbial community alters patterns of selection on flowering time and fitness‐related traits in Ipomoea purpurea, Dryad, Dataset,


Premise of the study

Plant flowering time plays an important role in plant fitness and thus evolutionary processes. Soil microbial communities are diverse and have a large impact, both positive and negative, on the host plant. However, owing to few available studies, how the soil microbial community may influence the evolutionary response of plant populations is not well understood. Here we sought to uncover if below-ground microbial communities act as an agent of selection on flowering and growth traits in the common morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea.


We performed a controlled greenhouse experiment in which genetic lines of I. purpurea were planted into either sterilized soils, or soils that were sterilized and re-inoculated with the microbial community from original field soil. This allowed us to directly test the influence of alterations to the microbial community on plant growth, flowering, and fitness, as well as assess patterns of selection in both soil microbial environments.


We found that a more complex soil microbial community resulted in larger plants that produced more flowers. Selection strongly favored earlier flowering when plants were grown in the complex microbial environment than compared to sterilized soil. Additionally, we uncovered a pattern of negative correlational selection on growth rate and flowering time, indicating that selection favored different combinations of growth and flowering traits in the simplified versus complex soil community.


Together these results suggest the soil microbial community is a selective agent on flowering time and ultimately that soil microbial community influences important plant evolutionary processes.


Plant growth, flowering, and fitness traits measured from Ipomoea purpurea, the common morning glory, grown in the greenhouse with experimental treatments altering the soil microbial community. Data has been cleaned and processed to reflect the published study.

Usage Notes

CSV file formated ready to import into R for analysis. See readme for data details.