Special Issue "Linking Belowground Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in Woody Agroecosystems"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 October 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Manuel Fernández-López
Guest Editor
Department of Soil Microbiology & Symbiotic Systems, Estacion Experimental del Zaidin, CSIC, calle Profesor Albareda 1, 18008 Granada, Spain
Interests: microbial diversity; woody plant microbiomes; beneficial plant–microbe interactions; rhizosphere; deep sequencing; olive; Quercus; pines
Dr. Jesús Mercado-Blanco
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Crop Protection, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, 14004 Cordoba, Spain
Interests: banana; beneficial endophytes; biological control; integrated disease management; olive; omics; plant–microbe interactions; Pseudomonas; Rhizosphere microbiology; soil-borne diseases
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The role of belowground biodiversity in promoting the health and resilience of woody agro-ecosystems (both forests and tree plantations) is of utmost relevance in current plant–soil biota interactions research. In-depth knowledge on the connection between soil function, as mediated by soil biota, and aboveground ecosystem productivity is crucial, thereby supporting a wide range of human activities, and, more importantly, life on our planet. It must be emphasized that tree agro-ecosystems are dominated by vegetal species, displaying peculiarities such as a large biomass, complicated anatomy, large root systems, longevity, and perennial nature, which pose specific and major challenges to researchers.

The predicted increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events due to climate change stresses the need for a better understanding of the ability of these agroecosystems to withstand such disturbances. There are numerous factors that contribute to ecosystem resilience, and effective biological activity in the soil is certainly one of them. Belowground species and functional group diversity underpin soil function, which, in turn, is the keystone of ecosystem productivity and stability. Thus, it cannot the role of belowground biodiversity and aboveground agroecosystem productivity on which humankind depends for its survival be ruled out. As trees play important roles in providing key ecosystem services, increasing our understanding of the links between belowground biota and trees is instrumental to generate novel, and more effective and sustainable management strategies for forest and tree crops.

This Special Issue mainly focuses on how woody plant–microbial interactions can affect plant fitness and ecosystem services of forests and tree crops, and on microbial strategies for dealing with plant stress and increasing ecosystems resilience. We welcome the submission of research reports and review papers.

Dr. Manuel Fernández-López
Dr. Jesús Mercado-Blanco
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Forests is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Woody plants
  • Belowground microbiota
  • Ecosystem services
  • Soil biodiversity
  • Plant fitness
  • Plant microbiome
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Soil Microbial Biomass and Community Composition Relates to Poplar Genotypes and Environmental Conditions
Forests 2020, 11(3), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11030262 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Poplars, known for their diversity, are trees that can develop symbiotic relationships with several groups of microorganisms. The genetic diversity of poplars and different abiotic factors influence the properties of the soil and may shape microbial communities. Our study aimed to analyse the [...] Read more.
Poplars, known for their diversity, are trees that can develop symbiotic relationships with several groups of microorganisms. The genetic diversity of poplars and different abiotic factors influence the properties of the soil and may shape microbial communities. Our study aimed to analyse the impact of poplar genotype on the biomass and community composition of the microbiome of four poplar genotypes grown under different soil conditions and soil depths. Of the three study sites, established in the mid-1990s, one was near a copper smelter, whereas the two others were situated in unpolluted regions, but were differentiated according to the physicochemical traits of the soil. The whole-cell fatty acid analysis was used to determine the biomass and proportions of gram-positive, gram-negative and actinobacteria, arbuscular fungi (AMF), other soil fungi, and protozoa in the whole microbial community in the soil. The results showed that the biomass of microorganisms and their contributions to the community of organisms in the soil close to poplar roots were determined by both factors: the tree-host genotype and the soil environment. However, each group of microorganisms was influenced by these factors to a different degree. In general, the site effect played the main role in shaping the microbial biomass (excluding actinobacteria), whereas tree genotype determined the proportions of the fungal and bacterial groups in the microbial communities and the proportion of AMF in the fungal community. Bacterial biomass was influenced more by site factors, whereas fungal biomass more by tree genotype. With increasing soil depth, a decrease in the biomass of all microorganisms was observed; however, the proportions of the different microorganisms within the soil profile were the result of interactions between the host genotype and soil conditions. Despite the predominant impact of soil conditions, our results showed the important role of poplar genotype in shaping microorganism communities in the soil. Full article
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