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Data from: No evidence of foliar disease impact on crop root functional strategies and soil microbial communities: What does this mean for organic coffee?

Citation

Gagliardi, Stephanie et al. (2022), Data from: No evidence of foliar disease impact on crop root functional strategies and soil microbial communities: What does this mean for organic coffee?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hqbzkh1h4

Abstract

Global climate change is increasing pest and pathogen pressures on plant communities, deteriorating optimal plant functioning. In plant communities, root functional trait expression and microbial communities are important indicators of plant functioning belowground, and, when confronted with pathogens aboveground, can simultaneously reflect plant defence strategies. Yet, while research is continuing to emerge on the response of root functional traits and microbial processes to pathogens aboveground, little work has investigated these interactions in tree-crops, or the role organic amendments play in moderating these relationships. The main objective of this study is to disentangle the dynamic effects of pathogens and amendments on root functional traits (i.e., specific root length and area, root diameter, root length density, root nitrogen, and root carbon to nitrogen ratio) and root endophytic fungal communities. As a model, we use Coffea arabica (coffee) variety Caturra along a gradient of Coffee Leaf Rust – a foliar disease prominent in coffee systems – under contrasting but widespread amendment regimes in biodiverse agroforestry systems. We found that root trait expression varies along established conservation and collaboration gradients, where fungal endophyte community composition varies significantly as a function of root traits. Belowground resource acquisition strategies do not change with foliar disease incidence, suggesting they may be decoupled. Rather, amendment regimes differentially shape root trait expression and microbial communities, where coffee plants under organic amendments, regardless of foliar disease incidence, expressed greater acquisitive traits and enhanced collaboration with symbiotic fungi. This is an important first step in disentangling the dynamic inter-relationships between plant traits, endophytes, and pathogens, generating new questions on the role of amendments in sustainable pathogen management in biodiverse agroecosystems.