Community specificity: Life and afterlife effects of genes

Thomas G. Whitham, Catherine A. Gehring, Louis J. Lamit, Todd Wojtowicz, Luke M. Evans, Arthur R. Keith, David Solance Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Community-level genetic specificity results when individual genotypes or populations of the same species support different communities. Our review of the literature shows that genetic specificity exhibits both life and afterlife effects; it is a widespread phenomenon occurring in diverse taxonomic groups, aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems, and species-poor to species-rich systems. Such specificity affects species interactions, evolution, ecosystem processes and leads to community feedbacks on the performance of the individuals expressing the traits. Thus, genetic specificity by communities appears to be fundamentally important, suggesting that specificity is a major driver of the biodiversity and stability of the world's ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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