Call for papers on root ecology!

Submitted by editor on 8 April 2021.

Root traits and functioning: from individual plants to ecosystems

Special Issue in Oikos

(Photo credit root pictures: Wim van Egmond)

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 is further challenged by the fascinating (and complicated) interactions that they have evolved with soil microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi, rhizobia, parasites, and pathogens.

With our limited knowledge of root traits and their implications for root functioning, we understand even less about how those traits and functions respond to environmental cues across large spatial, temporal, and successional scales. To advance the field of root ecology we need evidence-based knowledge linking the traits of roots and associated microbes with root, plant, community, and ecosystem functioning.

We invite your submissions for this Special Issue on root ecology, in which we aim to improve our understanding of roots and their roles within ecosystems. Submissions may cover (but are not limited to) the following topics:

* Linkages between root traits and root function (e.g. resource uptake), aboveground plant traits and functioning, whole-plant performance, and/or community or ecosystem processes. Studies are welcome at both intraspecific and interspecific scales (addressing different genotypes or mutants of a single plant species, or looking across species).

* Relationships between root traits and the composition and function of the microbial community, e.g. mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobia.

* Plasticity of roots and associated mycorrhizas and rhizobia along environmental gradients. Examples include root responses to naturally occurring pulsed resource supply, and variations in roots and associated microbes along spatial (e.g. elevation or latitude) and temporal scales (e.g. plant succession or soil chronosequence).

We look forward to compiling a Special Issue composed of a healthy mix of  article types:  observational, empirical, and theoretical papers mixed with Forum, Dialogue, and Ignite papers. For more information on the different article types we refer to, see: It is our aim to bring authors together for at least one Dialogue paper. We endorse a balanced authorship with respect to all issues of diversity including age, career stage, gender, and nationality.

Please submit your abstract before May 15, 2021 to the Oikos handling editor (Deliang Kong, email: deliangkong1999 [at] 126 [dot] com) and Editor-in-Chief (dries [dot] bonte [at] ugent [dot] be), who  together with the guest editors named below will evaluate its suitability for the Special Issue. If the initial submission is approved, you are welcome to submit the article to Oikos at before September 1, 2021.

Guest Editors:

Oscar J. Valvede-Barrantes,  - I am a botanist and microbiologist deeply interested in the study of the evolutionary pathways that defined the interactions between plants and their associated microbial communities. My field of research includes the study of the co-evolution between mycorrhizal fungus and seed plants, the mechanisms driving the variation in functional root traits and the impacts of different root strategies on ecological processes like soil carbon accrual and species coexistence. I work in multiple ecosystems, with an especial emphasis in tropical forests and botanical garden collections.

email: os [dot] valverde33 [at] gmail [dot] com


 M. Luke McCormack, - I am a forest ecologist with a passion for tree roots, fungi, and soils. My work focuses on understanding the roles played by fine roots and symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi in shaping plant responses to environmental changes. I am also interested to connect this work with efforts to improve how fine-root and soil processes are represented in ecosystem and global models of plant growth and carbon cycling.

email: lmccormack [at] mortonarb [dot] org


Monique Weemstra – I am a plant ecologist interested in belowground traits and how they interact with aboveground traits. More specifically, my research aims to integrate above- and belowground traits and functions and determine how these together drive plant performance and community functioning in changing and different environments. In my current Postdoc, I am linking tree root, leaf and stem traits to growth and survival rates.

email: moniqueweemstra [at] hotmail [dot] com