Submitted by editor on 16 January 2023.

Special issue: Root traits and functioning: from individual plants to ecosystems

Table of Contents: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/16000706/2023/2023/1

Editorial: Click to read.

Editors of the Special Issue: Monique Weemstra, Oscar J. Valverde-Barrantes, M. Luke McCormack, Deliang Kong

*Photo credit: Wim van Egmond

"Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots." - Rumi.

We are thrilled to start the year with this Special Issue! Roots play critical roles in plant communities and ecosystems—but compared to leaves and stems, these hidden underground structures are still something of a scientific mystery. Our understanding of roots has beem further challenged by the fascinating (and complicated) interactions that they have evolved with soil microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi, rhizobia, parasites, and pathogens.

The publications in this Special Issue Root traits and functioning: from individual plants to ecosystems comprise a diversity of plant belowground traits (Table 1) that are involved in the different functional processes of plants (water and nutrient uptake; plant defenses against below- and aboveground pathogens; anchorage; competitive capacities; belowground symbioses) and ecosystems (soil stability; belowground productivity; vegetation dynamics). Building on different and novel methodological approaches (from meta-analyses and machine-learning to greenhouse experiments and field study) and systems (crops, agro-ecological settings and natural conditions), they expand our global belowground datasets (Table 1). Together, they underwrite the multidimensionality of the belowground world of plants across biomes (from alpine tundra vegetation to tropical forests), taxonomic (from the plant community to the intraspecific level) and spatial (from microbial processes, to the whole plant and ecosystem) scales and maintain the momentum of root ecology.

This collection of papers form perfect examples of this upward movement of the belowground component in plant ecology.