J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (1): 1-9 .DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtx057

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Interaction of a root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne hapla) and plant intraspecific diversity in clover-grass communities

Xiaohui Guo1,2,*, Jana S. Petermann1,3,4 and Susanne Wurst1,3   

  1. 1 Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences, Institute of Biology, Freie Universit?t Berlin, K?nigin-Luise-Str. 1–3, Berlin D-14195, Germany
    2 Key Laboratory of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Ministry of Education, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Songhu Road 2005, Shanghai 200438, China
    3 Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research, Altensteinstr. 34, Berlin D-14195, Germany
    4 Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, Salzburg 5020, Austria
    *Correspondence address. Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences, Freie Universit?t Berlin, K?nigin-Luise-Str. 1–3, Berlin D-14195, Germany. Tel: +49 +30 838 50947; Fax: +49 +30 838 54869; E-mail: xhguo86@hotmail.com
  • Received:2017-01-15 Revised:2017-09-27 Accepted:2017-10-02 Online:2017-10-09 Published:2019-02-01



Soil organisms can influence the plant diversity-productivity relationship at species level; however, little is known about their role in the relationship at an intraspecific level. This study aimed to investigate the interaction between the effects of plant intraspecific diversity and a root-knot nematode on primary production and community evenness.


A greenhouse experiment was conducted by using intraspecific diversity of a clover-grass community through sowing 2-, 4-, 8- and 16-cultivar mixtures of Trifolium pratense L. and Lolium perenne L. and by adding the nematode Meloidogyne hapla. We investigated the effects of plant intraspecific diversity and M. hapla on biomass of plant community, biomass of cultivar individuals and community evenness.

Important Findings

We found that L. perenne dominated the communities, yet its biomass was not affected by the treatments. Meloidogyne hapla influenced the effect of plant intraspecific diversity on aboveground biomass of T. pratense at the four-cultivar mixture level of plant intraspecific diversity. Community evenness increased linearly with increasing plant intraspecific diversity, and M. hapla affected community evenness at the four-cultivar mixture level. Both T. pratense and L. perenne cultivars differed in aboveground biomass. Depending on plant intraspecific diversity and cultivar identity, nematode addition positively affected the aboveground biomass of T. pratense individuals. The response of T. pratense cultivars to M. hapla and to various plant intraspecific diversity levels influenced the intraspecific diversity-productivity relationship. This study highlights the influence of M. hapla on the effect of plant intraspecific diversity on aboveground biomass of T. pratense, suggesting that future research on the impact of intraspecific plant diversity on ecosystem functions should consider the effects of soil organisms.

Key words: nematode, diversity-productivity relationship, biomass, legume-grass community