Plant roots send metabolic signals to microbes in response to long-term overgrazing

Yin Jingjing, Guo Huiqin, ELLEN FRY, Jonathan R. De Long, Tang Shiming, Weibo Ren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Overgrazing directly and indirectly affects soil microorganisms, which can have feedback effects on plant growth. Little is known about the root metabolites plants produce and whether they recruit beneficial microbes in response to overgrazing. Here, we used the dominant grassland species Leymus chinensis to explore correlations between root metabolites and the rhizosphere microbiome shaped by long-term overgrazing, which was determined by using LC-MS technology and high-throughput sequencing. In total, 839 metabolites were detected, with 41 significantly higher and 3 significantly lower in overgrazing versus grazing exclusion plots. The rhizosphere bacterial community was changed, but the fungal community was not altered. Moreover, 11 bacterial orders were found only in the overgrazed samples, and these showed close relationships to root metabolites and certain soil properties. Of these, Latescibacterales, B10-SB3A, and Nitrosococcales are known to be involved in growth promotion, C and N metabolism, respectively. In addition, root metabolites play an important role in mediating root-fungi interactions. The beneficial fungal orders Agaricales and Sordariales have a tread to be higher maybe due to root metabolites, mainly facilitate nutrient absorption and protect organic carbon in the soil, respectively. Our results indicate that grassland plants send metabolic signals to recruit key beneficial bacteria and stabilize fungal communities to alleviate grazing-induced stress in typical grassland ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number156241
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date26 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2022


  • Overgrazing
  • Leymus chinensis
  • Root metabolic signals
  • Bacterial community
  • Fungal community
  • Typical grassland


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