Medicago sativa has reduced biomass and nodulation when grown with soil microbiomes conditioned to high phosphorus inputs

Laura M. Kaminsky, Grant L. Thompson, Ryan V. Trexler, Terrence H. Bell, Jenny Kao-Kniffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Agricultural over-fertilization may adversely impact plant_microbial interactions affecting crop yield. It is unclear if soil microbiomes respond quickly to changes in fertilizer inputs once conditioned to specific nutrient regimes. We conducted a growth chamber study assessing the compositional and functional resilience of root-associated microbiomes of Medicago sativa to nutrient regime changes, and consequences for plant growth. Plants were grown with a common starting soil microbiome under four nutrient treatments: control (no fertilizer), organic phosphorus (compost added), low inorganic P (low triple superphosphate, TSP) and high inorganic P (high TSP). After several conditioning generations, in which microbiomes from rhizospheres of high biomass plants were transferred forward, microbiome composition was distinct across the four treatments. The resulting microbiomes were then transplanted into each of the nutrient treatments, leading generally to functional changes in hydrolytic enzyme activity and taxonomic convergence with other microbiomes transplanted into the same nutrient regime. However, high inorganic P-conditioned microbiomes were resistant to compositional change. Correspondingly, M. sativa grown with high inorganic P-conditioned microbiomes had lower biomass, fewer nodules, and lower %N than plants grown under the same nutrient regime with other microbiomes. These findings suggest that excessive inorganic P fertilization may change microbiomes such that they negatively affect plant growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-248
Number of pages12
JournalPhytobiomes Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology


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