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Climate-driven divergence in plant-microbiome interactions generates range-wide variation in bud break phenology...

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Communications Biology
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Soil microbiomes are rapidly becoming known as an important driver of plant phenotypic variation and may mediate plant responses to environmental factors. However, integrating spatial scales relevant to climate change with plant intraspecific genetic variation and soil microbial ecology is difficult, making studies of broad inference rare. Here we hypothesize and show: 1) the degree to which tree genotypes condition their soil microbiomes varies by population across the geographic distribution of a widespread riparian tree, Populus angustifolia; 2) geographic dissimilarity in soil microbiomes among populations is influenced by both abiotic and biotic environmental variation; and 3) soil microbiomes that vary in response to abiotic and biotic factors can change plant foliar phenology. We show soil microbiomes respond to intraspecific variation at the tree genotype and population level, and geographic variation in soil characteristics and climate. Using a fully reciprocal plant population by soil location feedback experiment, we identified a climate-based soil microbiome effect that advanced and delayed bud break phenology by approximately 10 days. These results demonstrate a landscape-level feedback between tree populations and associated soil microbial communities and suggest soil microbes may play important roles in mediating and buffering bud break phenology with climate warming, with whole ecosystem implications.