Extreme drought alters trophic structure belowground, releasing plant parasites from predation. But the magnitude of these effects changes spatially. Those are the main conclusions of our study published today in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science). A press release about the study can be viewed here.
These findings may have serious implications for the world’s grasslands. Root biomass responds to most of the carbon sequestered in these ecosystems, and it might be that the increased population of plant parasites is exacerbating the negative effects of drought on carbon sequestration in grasslands. We are currently testing this hypothesis, so stay tuned for our next publications.
For more information on our project assessing the responses of soil-plant interactions to water availability click here. The project is funded by the NSF and is a collaboration with Osvaldo Sala’s lab at Arizona State University.