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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Feb 7;271(1536):317-24.

Development of negative feedback during successive growth cycles of black cherry.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


Negative feedback between plant and soil microbial communities can be a key determinant of vegetation structure and dynamics. Previous research has shown that negative feedback between black cherry (Prunus serotina) and soil pathogens is strongly distance dependent. Here, we investigate the temporal dynamics of negative feedback. To examine short-term changes, we planted successive cycles of seedlings in the same soil. We found that seedling mortality increased steadily with growth cycle when sterile background soil was inoculated with living field soil but not in controls inoculated with sterilized field soil. To examine long-term changes, we quantified negative feedback across successive growth cycles in soil inoculated with living field soil from a mature forest system (more than 70 years old) versus a younger successional site (ca. 25 years old). In both cases negative feedback developed similarly. Our results suggest that negative feedback can develop very quickly in forest systems, at the spatial scale of a single seedling.

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