Plant and Soil

, Volume 435, Issue 1–2, pp 337–351 | Cite as

Effect of contaminated soil on multitrophic interactions in a terrestrial system

  • Grega E. Voglar
  • Tanja Mrak
  • Mitja Križman
  • Anamarija Jagodič
  • Stanislav Trdan
  • Žiga LaznikEmail author
Regular Article


Background and aims

The effect of contaminated soil on multitrophic interactions in a terrestrial system was studied in a mesocosm experiment with European beech, larvae of summer chafer, and entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN).


Beech seedlings were grown in non-contaminated forest and garden soil contaminated with potential toxic elements Cd, Pb and Zn, and in the absence/presence of summer chafer larvae. Root morphology and ectomycorrhizal communities were analysed. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitted from beech roots were investigated by GC-MS. Humulene, β-caryophyllene, borneol and camphor were selected for chemotaxis assay with EPN Steinernema feltiae, S. carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.


Increased root tip density was observed as a response to soil contamination and root herbivory. Soil contamination decreased ectomycorrhizal species richness. Analyses of VOC yielded 14 different compounds. Results showed that the least mobile nematode species towards the VOC tested was S. feltiae. β-caryophyllene was an attractant for S. carpocapsae and humulene a weak attractant for H. bacteriophora.


Beech roots emitted VOC that affected movement of EPN. β-caryophyllene was detected in beech roots regardless of treatment, indicating that VOC that affect movement of EPN are emitted even in the absence of direct root herbivore attack.


Contaminated soil Beech seedlings Summer chafer Ectomycorrhizal communities Root volatile organic compounds Entomopathogenic nematodes 



This work was conducted within Horticulture No. P4-0013-0481, a programme funded by the Slovenian Research Agency. Part of this research was funded within Professional Tasks from the Field of Plant Protection, a programme funded by the Phytosanitary Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food of the Republic of Slovenia. The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (public tender “Promoting employment of young PhDs” in 2015 and research core funding No. P4-0107 Forest biology, ecology and technology), Dr. Tine Grebenc for advice on phylogenetic analysis of T. menseri and Koppert for providing the commercial strains of entomopathogenic nematodes.

Supplementary material

11104_2018_3903_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (177 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 177 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grega E. Voglar
    • 1
  • Tanja Mrak
    • 1
  • Mitja Križman
    • 2
  • Anamarija Jagodič
    • 3
  • Stanislav Trdan
    • 3
  • Žiga Laznik
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Slovenian Forestry InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.National Institute of ChemistryLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Biotechnical Faculty, Department of AgronomyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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