Plant genetic diversity affects multiple trophic levels and trophic interactions

Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 27;13(1):7312. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-35087-7.


Intraspecific genetic diversity is an important component of biodiversity. A substantial body of evidence has demonstrated positive effects of plant genetic diversity on plant performance. However, it has remained unclear whether plant genetic diversity generally increases plant performance by reducing the pressure of plant antagonists across trophic levels for different plant life forms, ecosystems and climatic zones. Here, we analyse 4702 effect sizes reported in 413 studies that consider effects of plant genetic diversity on trophic groups and their interactions. We found that that increasing plant genetic diversity decreased the performance of plant antagonists including invertebrate herbivores, weeds, plant-feeding nematodes and plant diseases, while increasing the performance of plants and natural enemies of herbivores. Structural equation modelling indicated that plant genetic diversity increased plant performance partly by reducing plant antagonist pressure. These results reveal that plant genetic diversity often influences multiple trophic levels in ways that enhance natural pest control in managed ecosystems and consumer control of plants in natural ecosystems for sustainable plant production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Herbivory
  • Plants* / genetics