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Plant genotypic diversity effects on soil nematodes vary with trophic level

Cite this dataset

Wu, Jihua et al. (2021). Plant genotypic diversity effects on soil nematodes vary with trophic level [Dataset]. Dryad.


At local spatial scales, loss of genetic diversity within species can lead to species loss. Few studies, however, have examined plant genotypic diversity effects across trophic levels.

We investigated genotypic diversity effects of Phragmites australis on belowground biomass and soil nematode communities.

Our results revealed belowground plant biomass and nematode abundance responses to plant genotypic diversity were uncoupled. Decreasing plant genotypic diversity decreased the abundance of lower, but not higher trophic level nematodes. Low plant genotypic diversity also decreased the structural footprint and functional indices of nematodes, indicating lowered metabolic functioning of higher-trophic level nematodes and decreased soil food web stability.

Our study suggests that plant genotypic diversity effects differ across trophic levels, taxonomic groups, and ecosystem functions and that decreasing plant genotypic diversity could destabilize belowground food webs. This highlights the importance of conserving intraspecific plant diversity.


Belowground plant material was washed immediately, oven dried at 50°C to constant weight and weighed. Nematodes were counted, identified (100 randomly-selected individuals per plot or all individuals if fewer than 100) to genus level using ×1000 magnification and classified into four feeding groups. Nematode abundance was expressed as individuals per 100 g dry weight (DW) soil, diversity was expressed as the genera richness and Shannon–Wiener Diversity Index at the genus level (H′ diversity).


Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China, Award: 2017YFC1200100

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: Grant No. 31570513