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Data from: Crop health is predicted by soil microbial diversity across phylogenetic scales


Lankau, Richard; Miao, Max; George, Isabelle (2022), Data from: Crop health is predicted by soil microbial diversity across phylogenetic scales, Dryad, Dataset,


Soils contain diverse living communities that provide key ecosystem functions in agroecosystems. In many systems, ecosystems functions are positively related to the taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity of the community. Despite calls to incorporate microbial diversity in measures of soil health, whether increased microbial diversity per se can predict increased crop health and productivity has rarely been documented. Here we used microbial communities from commercial potato fields varying in diversity and composition, and experimentally assessed their ability to promote crop yield under low or high nutrient conditions and to suppress a soil-borne pathogen. Across two independent sets of communities, we found that yields under low nutrient conditions were predicted by high initial microbial diversity measured at broad phylogenetic levels, consistent with greater niche complementarity among unrelated taxa leading to greater total resource use. However, disease suppression was inconsistently linked to diversity and explained as well or better by microbial composition rather than diversity per se. Ecosystem multifunctionality was predicted by high diversity at broad to intermediate phylogenetic scales. These results indicate that the diversity of microbial taxa may influence multiple soil functions; however, the mechanisms underlying the diversity-function relationships may vary.