We lack strong empirical evidence for links between plant attributes (plant community attributes and functional traits) and the distribution of soil microbial communities at large spatial scales. Using datasets from two contrasting regions and ecosystem types in Australia and England, we report that aboveground plant community attributes, such as diversity (species richness) and cover, and functional traits can predict a unique portion of the variation in the diversity (number of phylotypes) and community composition of soil bacteria and fungi that cannot be explained by soil abiotic properties and climate. We further identify the relative importance and evaluate the potential direct and indirect effects of climate, soil properties and plant attributes in regulating the diversity and community composition of soil microbial communities. Finally, we deliver a list of examples of common taxa from Australia and England that are strongly related to specific plant traits, such as specific leaf area index, leaf nitrogen and nitrogen fixation. Together, our work provides new evidence that plant attributes, especially plant functional traits, can predict the distribution of soil microbial communities at the regional scale and across two hemispheres.
- plant functional traits
- terrestrial ecosystems