Ecological stoichiometry drives the evolution of soil nematode life history traits

Xia Xue, Bishwo N. Adhikari, Becky A. Ball, John E. Barrett, Jinxin Miao, Ammon Perkes, Mac Martin, Breana L. Simmons, Diana H. Wall, Byron J. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ecological stoichiometry is a useful theoretical framework for understanding the sources and controls on nutrient availability that structure the composition and diversity of biotic communities. One such relationship is that organismal development rate is positively linked to cellular Phosphorus (P). We hypothesized that P availability, relative to other nutrients, e.g., nitrogen and carbon, would drive the evolution of traits associated with organismal growth and development. We examined the effects of P availability both in situ and in vitro, on free-living soil nematodes. We found that P-deficient environments produce predictable changes in the ecology and evolution of important life history traits. Our results identify altered rRNA gene copy number and subsequent changes in gene expression and protein synthesis as mechanisms by which P-deficiency influences these traits. These findings have important implications for explaining soil ecological and evolutionary patterns across multiple levels of organization, including the structure and functioning of organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108891
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Elemental stoichiometry
  • Growth rate hypothesis
  • Life history theory
  • Molecular evolution
  • Nematoda
  • rRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Soil Science


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