Climate vs. soil factors in local adaptation of two common plant species
Macel, M., Lawson, C. S., Mortimer, S. R., Smilauerova, M., Bischoff, A., Cremieux, L., Dolezal, J., Edwards, A. R., Lanta, V., Bezemer, T. M., van der Putten, W. H., Igual, J. M., Rodriguez-Barrueco, C., Muller-Scharer, H. and Steinger, T. (2007) Climate vs. soil factors in local adaptation of two common plant species. Ecology, 88 (2). pp. 424-433. ISSN 0012-9658
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1890/0012-9658(2007)88[424:CVSFIL]2.0.CO;2
Evolutionary theory suggests that divergent natural selection in heterogeneous environments can result in locally adapted plant genotypes. To understand local adaptation it is important to study the ecological factors responsible for divergent selection. At a continental scale, variation in climate can be important while at a local scale soil properties could also play a role. We designed an experiment aimed to disentangle the role of climate and ( abiotic and biotic) soil properties in local adaptation of two common plant species. A grass (Holcus lanatus) and a legume ( Lotus corniculatus), as well as their local soils, were reciprocally transplanted between three sites across an Atlantic-Continental gradient in Europe and grown in common gardens in either their home soil or foreign soils. Growth and reproductive traits were measured over two growing seasons. In both species, we found significant environmental and genetic effects on most of the growth and reproductive traits and a significant interaction between the two environmental effects of soil and climate. The grass species showed significant home site advantage in most of the fitness components, which indicated adaptation to climate. We found no indication that the grass was adapted to local soil conditions. The legume showed a significant home soil advantage for number of fruits only and thus a weak indication of adaptation to soil and no adaptation to climate. Our results show that the importance of climate and soil factors as drivers of local adaptation is species-dependent. This could be related to differences in interactions between plant species and soil biota.