Disentangling the contribution of climatic and edaphic factors to microbiome variation and local adaptation in plants requires an experimental approach to uncouple their effects and test for causality. We used microbial inocula, soil matrices and plant genotypes derived from two natural Arabidopsis thaliana populations in northern and southern Europe in an experiment conducted in climatic chambers mimicking seasonal changes in temperature, day length and light intensity of the home sites of the two genotypes. The southern A. thaliana genotype outperformed the northern genotype in the southern climate chamber, whereas the opposite was true in the northern climate chamber. Recipient soil matrix, but not microbial composition, affected plant fitness, and effects did not differ between genotypes. Differences between chambers significantly affected rhizosphere microbiome assembly, although these effects were small in comparison with the shifts induced by physicochemical differences between soil matrices. The results suggest that differences in seasonal changes in temperature, day length and light intensity between northern and southern Europe have strongly influenced adaptive differentiation between the two A. thaliana populations, whereas effects of differences in soil factors have been weak. By contrast, below-ground differences in soil characteristics were more important than differences in climate for rhizosphere microbiome differentiation.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; climate; local adaptation; microbiome; plant fitness; soil.
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