Plant lignin content altered by soil microbial community

Alison E. Bennett (Lead / Corresponding author), Dominic Grussu, Jason Kam, Sandra Caul, Claire Halpin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Questions have been raised in various fields of research about the consequences of plants with modified lignin production. As a result of their roles in nutrient cycling and plant diversity, plant–soil interactions should be a major focus of ecological studies on lignin-modified plants. However, most studies have been decomposition studies conducted in a single soil or in sterile soil. Thus, we understand little about plant–soil interactions in living lignin-modified plants.
    In lignin mutants of three different barley (Hordeum vulgare) cultivars and their corresponding wild-types associated with three different soil microbial communities, we asked: do plant–soil microbiome interactions influence the lignin content of plants?; does a mutation in lignin production alter the outcome of plant–soil microbiome interactions?; does the outcome of plant–soil microbiome interactions depend on host genotype or the presence of a mutation altering lignin production?
    In roots, the soil community explained 6% of the variation in lignin content, but, in shoots, the soil community explained 21% of the variation in lignin content and was the only factor influencing lignin content. Neither genotype nor mutations in lignin production explained associations with fungi.
    Lignin content changes in response to a plant's soil microbial community, and may be a defensive response to particular components of the soil community.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)166-174
    Number of pages9
    JournalNew Phytologist
    Issue number1
    Early online date12 Nov 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


    • rob1
    • Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi
    • Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
    • Dark septate endophyte lignin
    • Plant defense
    • Soil microbial community

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Plant Science
    • Physiology


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