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Data from: Endophytes shape the legacy left by the above- and below ground litter of the host affecting the establishment of a legume

Citation

Minás, Alexia; García-Parisi, Pablo; Chludil, Hugo; Omacini, Marina (2021), Data from: Endophytes shape the legacy left by the above- and below ground litter of the host affecting the establishment of a legume, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.crjdfn34x

Abstract

Plant litter is a key component of plant-soil feedback (PSF), given its strong potential impacts on plant establishment and growth, through chemical and physical pathways. Although PSF of the layer of dead plant material on the soil surface (aboveground litter) has been widely studied little is known about the role of dead roots (belowground litter) and the impact of plant symbionts on host litter legacy. Here, we examined whether the fungal endophyte Epichloë occultans changed the effects of above and belowground litter of Lolium multiflorum plants on the establishment of Trifolium repens. We hypothesized that both types of litter deposited by the grass-endophyte symbiosis reduce the establishment of the legume due to the release of allelopathic compounds during the decomposition and leaching processes. To test this, we performed two experiments with different quantities of litter produced by plants of the same grass population, with high and low levels of endophyte infection (E+ and E-). Seeds of T. repens were exposed to the aboveground litter with or without the addition of belowground litter, or to their leachates, to separate the physical and chemical pathways. We found that the treatments with the combination of the above and belowground litter produced by E+ plants, increased the germination speed and seedling emergence of T. repens by 56% compared with both types of litter produced by E- plants. A similar effect was also observed with only the aboveground litter. However, the belowground litter of E+ plants reduced the germination speed, seedling emergence by 76% and establishment of T. repens by 73% compared with the belowground litter of E- plants. Besides, the belowground litter had positive effects on the root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and reduced the root nodulation of T. repens. The quantity of litter did not affect any of these responses. Our results suggest that these litter legacy effects could be due to the release of endophyte induced secondary metabolites, such as phenolic and flavonoid compounds. Changes in host plant litter inputs may have consequences for the prevalence of legume plants in grasslands and pastures, affecting their quality and dynamics.

Methods

See manuscript for methods details.

Usage Notes

The data is divided according to the experiments that were carried out. These include the final data used to generate the figures and tables.

Funding

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas

Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, Award: PICT 2017-0910