@Article{IPB-2261, author = {Herz, K. and Dietz, S. and Gorzolka, K. and Haider, S. and Jandt, U. and Scheel, D. and Bruelheide, H.}, title = {{Linking root exudates to functional plant traits}}, year = {2018}, pages = {e0204128}, journal = {PLOS ONE}, doi = {10.1371/journal.pone.0204128}, url = {https://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204128}, volume = {13}, abstract = {Primary and secondary metabolites exuded by plant roots have mainly been studied under laboratory conditions, while knowledge of root exudate patterns of plants growing in natural communities is very limited. Focusing on ten common European grassland plant species, we asked to which degree exuded metabolite compositions are specific to species or growth forms (forbs and grasses), depend on environments and local neighbourhoods, and reflect traditional plant functional traits. Root exudates were collected under field conditions and analysed using a non-targeted gas chromatography coupled mass spectrometry (GC-MS) approach. In total, we annotated 153 compounds of which 36 were identified by structure and name as metabolites mainly derived from the primary metabolism. Here we show by using variance partitioning, that the composition of exuded polar metabolites was mostly explained by plot identity, followed by plant species identity while plant species composition of the local neighbourhood played no role. Total and root dry biomass explained the largest proportion of variance in exudate composition, with additional variance explained by traditional plant traits. Although the exudate composition was quite similar between the two growth forms, we found some metabolites that occurred only in one of the two growth forms. Our study demonstrated the feasibility of measuring polar exudates under non-sterile field conditions by mass spectrometry, which opens new avenues of research for functional plant ecology.} }