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Title: More than growth: Phytohormone-regulated transcription factors controlling plant immunity, plant development and plant architecture
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Current Opinion in Plant Biology
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National Science Foundation
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  1. null (Ed.)
    Plant soil feedback (PSF) occurs when a plant modifies soil biotic properties and those changes in turn influence plant growth, survival or reproduction. These feedback effects are not well understood as mechanisms for invasive plant species. Eragrostis lehmanniana is an invasive species that has extensively colonized the southwest US. To address how PSFs may affect E. lehmanniana invasion and native Bouteloua gracilis growth, soil inoculant from four sites of known invasion age at the Appleton-Whittell Audubon Research Ranch in Sonoita, AZ were used in a PSF greenhouse study, incorporating a replacement series design. The purpose of this research was to evaluate PSF conspecific and heterospecific effects and competition outcomes between the invasive E. lehmanniana and a native forage grass, Bouteloua gracilis . Eragrostis lehmanniana PSFs were beneficial to B. gracilis if developed in previously invaded soil. Plant-soil feedback contributed to competitive suppression of B. gracilis only in the highest ratio of E. lehmanniana to B. gracilis . Plant-soil feedback did not provide an advantage to E. lehmanniana in competitive interactions with B. gracilis at low competition levels but were advantageous to E. lehmanniana at the highest competition ratio, indicating a possible density-dependent effect. Despite being beneficial to B. gracilis under many conditions, E. lehmanniana was the superior competitor. 
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  2. Abstract

    The plant microbiome is critical to plant health and is degraded with anthropogenic disturbance. However, the value of re‐establishing the native microbiome is rarely considered in ecological restoration. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are particularly important microbiome components, as they associate with most plants, and later successional grassland plants are strongly responsive to native AM fungi.

    With five separate sites across the United States, we inoculated mid‐ and late successional plant seedlings with one of three types of native microbiome amendments: (a) whole rhizosphere soil collected from local old‐growth, undisturbed grassland communities in Illinois, Kansas or Oklahoma, (b) laboratory cultured AM fungi from these same old‐growth grassland sites or (c) no microbiome amendment. We also seeded each restoration with a diverse native seed mixture. Plant establishment and growth was followed for three growing seasons.

    The reintroduction of soil microbiome from native ecosystems improved restoration establishment.

    Including only native arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities produced similar improvements in plant establishment as what was found with whole soil microbiome amendment. These findings were robust across plant functional groups.

    Inoculated plants (amended with either AM fungi or whole soil) also grew more leaves and were generally taller during the three growing seasons.

    Synthesis and applications. Our research shows that mycorrhizal fungi can accelerate plant succession and that the reintroduction of both whole soil and laboratory cultivated native mycorrhizal fungi can be used as tools to improve native plant restoration following anthropogenic disturbance.

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  3. Abstract

    Plant–soil feedback (PSF) can structure plant communities, promoting coexistence (negativePSF) or monodominance (positivePSF). At higher trophic levels, predators can alter plant community structure by re‐allocating resources within habitats. When predator and plant species are spatially associated, predators may alter the outcome ofPSF. Here, I explore the influence of plant‐associated predators onPSFusing a generalised cellular automaton model that tracks nutrients, plants, herbivores and predators. I explore key contingencies in plant–predator associations such as whether predators associate with live vs. senesced vegetation. Results indicate that plant‐associated predators shiftPSFto favour the host plant when predators colonise live vegetation, but the outcome ofPSFwill depend upon plant dispersal distance when predators colonise dead vegetation. I apply the model to two spider‐associated invasive plants, finding that spider predators should shiftPSFdynamics in a way that inhibits invasion by one forest invader, but exacerbates invasion by another.

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