How plant-microbe interactions shape diversity

Ecology Projects

Interactions between plants and soil microbes are common in nature, and have a pivotal role in mediating plant succession, invasion, and species coexistence. To study their influence on plant coexistence, I used diverse approaches utilizing theorys, modeling, experiments, and statistics.

2020-present

A meta-analysis

We conduct a meta-analysis on the microbially mediated fitness differences and compare their magnitude with the frequency dependent effect generate by microbes, to obtain a more comprehensive picture of microbial influence on plant coexistence outcomes.

This is a current project collaborate with Jonathan Levine and Gaura. We are presenting at ESA 2021. Check out my talk at COS 20: Species Interactions 2.

Evolutionarily stable coexistebce?

Using adaptive dynamics, we explore if plant-microbe interactions, e.g. Janzen-Connell effects, can allow plant species to have evolutionarily stable coexistence.

This is in-progress project with my advisor Caroline Farrior. Stay tuned.

2019-2020

A greenhouse experiment

We conducted a Plant-soil feedback (PSF) greenhouse experiment on 6 California grassland species (15 pairs), and found out soil microbes frequently generate stronger fitness differences than stabilizing effect. This indicates that microbes often drive species exclusion in the classic PSF framework where other competitive abilities are assumed to be equal.

During the phase 2 of the greenhouse experiment, focal species grow on soils conditioned previously by each species
During the phase 2 of the greenhouse experiment, focal species grow on soils conditioned previously by each species

Read our paper for more details.

2018-2019

Theory on microbially mediated fitness difference

Applying the modern coexistence theory to the classic PSF framework, we showed that PSF can generate not only frequency dependence that stabilize or destabilize plant coexistence, but also frequency independent fitness difference. Correctly infering the effect of PSF on coexistence, the fitnesss difference must be compared with the (de)stabilizing effect.)

Both microbial interaction and competition can create among plants niche separation and fitness difference, and the interplay of the two determines the coexistence outcome.
Both microbial interaction and competition can create among plants niche separation and fitness difference, and the interplay of the two determines the coexistence outcome.

Read our paper for more details.