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  1. Abstract Excessive phosphorus (P) applications to croplands can contribute to eutrophication of surface waters through surface runoff and subsurface (leaching) losses. We analyzed leaching losses of total dissolved P (TDP) from no-till corn, hybrid poplar ( Populus nigra X P. maximowiczii ), switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum ), miscanthus ( Miscanthus giganteus ), native grasses, and restored prairie, all planted in 2008 on former cropland in Michigan, USA. All crops except corn (13 kg P ha −1  year −1 ) were grown without P fertilization. Biomass was harvested at the end of each growing season except for poplar. Soil water at 1.2 m depth was sampled weekly to biweekly for TDP determination during March–November 2009–2016 using tension lysimeters. Soil test P (0–25 cm depth) was measured every autumn. Soil water TDP concentrations were usually below levels where eutrophication of surface waters is frequently observed (> 0.02 mg L −1 ) but often higher than in deep groundwater or nearby streams and lakes. Rates of P leaching, estimated from measured concentrations and modeled drainage, did not differ statistically among cropping systems across years; 7-year cropping system means ranged from 0.035 to 0.072 kg P ha −1  year −1 with large interannual variation. Leached P was positively related to STP, which decreased over themore »7 years in all systems. These results indicate that both P-fertilized and unfertilized cropping systems may leach legacy P from past cropland management.« less
  2. Leaf fungal endophytes (LFEs) contribute to plant growth and responses to stress. Fungi colonize leaves through maternal transmission, e.g. via the seed, and through environmental transmission, e.g. via aerial dispersal. The relative importance of these two pathways in assembly and function of the LFE community is poorly understood. We used amplicon sequencing to track switchgrass ( Panicum virgatum ) LFEs in a greenhouse and field experiment as communities assembled from seed endophytes and rain fungi (integration of wet and dry aerial dispersal) in germinating seeds, seedlings, and adult plants. Rain fungi varied temporally and hosted a greater portion of switchgrass LFE richness (greater than 65%) than were found in seed endophytes (greater than 25%). Exposure of germinating seeds to rain inoculum increased dissimilarity between LFE communities and seed endophytes, increasing the abundance of rain-derived taxa, but did not change diversity. In the field, seedling LFE composition changed more over time, with a decline in seed-derived taxa and an increase in richness, in response to environmental transmission than LFEs of adult plants. We show that environmental transmission is an important driver of LFE assembly, and likely plant growth, but its influence depends on both the conditions at the time of colonizationmore »and plant life stage.« less
  3. which limit cell wall digestibility and efficiency of cellulose conversion to bioethanol, can be influenced by belowground biotic and abiotic factors. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a leading lignocellulosic biofuel crop and forms strong belowground associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), is susceptible to belowground plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN), and when grown in monoculture generally requires nitrogen (N) fertilization. The main objectives of the study were to investigate the effects of N fertilizer and belowground organisms on lignin content and composition of switchgrass. Leaf, stem, and root tissues were evaluated separately to test whether these factors had varying belowground (local) or aboveground (systemic) effects on plants. These factors were manipulated in a field study in 2017 using biocide applications to reduce soil fungi and nematodes. Combined biocide application reduced p-hydroxyphenyl (H) unit abundance in the leaves by 14% and increased the syringyl:guaiacyl (S:G) ratio in stems by 2%. Application of fungicide alone increased stem syringyl (S) unit by 12.4% as compared with control plots, and 11.1% as compared with nematicide plots. Overall, fertilizer increased total stem lignin by 3%, stem S unit by 6.7%, and stem S:G ratio by 10%, whereas it reduced the amount of H-unit in the roots bymore »11%. While the effects of N fertilizer were more pronounced in this study, changes to soil organisms had similar magnitudes of effect for some measures of lignin, indicating that these belowground interactions may be important for growers to consider in the future.« less