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Louise Egerton-Warburton, Ph.D.

Louise Egerton-Warburton
Conservation Scientist, Soil and Microbial Ecology
(847) 835-6915
Curriculum Vitae: 
Teaching and Research Affiliations: 

Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian-American Fulbright Foundation, 1994–97
Adjunct Professor, Biological Sciences, Northwestern University, 2003 – present  

Selected Professional Associations: 

2016 – present Member, American Geophysical Union

2010 – present Member, Society for Ecological Restoration
2003 – present Member, Soil Science Society of America
2000 – present Member, Mycological Society of America
1995 – present Member, Microscopy Society of America 
1996 – present Member, Ecological Society of America
Research Interests: 
  • Fungal diversity, functioning, and ecology with an emphasis on mycorrhizal fungi
  • Consequences of alterations in climate, land-use, and species invasion cycles on plant-soil interactions
  • Fungal contributions to soil carbon sequestration and stability
  • Resilience, complex systems, and network theory

I am a soil ecologist.  My research projects primarily focus on examining the ecological links between the above- and below-ground biota and, in particular, the roles of mycorrhizal fungi in ecosystem function.

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with the roots of ~80% of all plants and are critical to nutrient uptake by plants. In addition, their biomass can outweigh that of any other component in the soil biota, and their roles include nutrient cycling, the sequestration of of carbon in their tissues and enhancing plant growth.  As a result, any alterations in these symbioses can feedback to influence ecosystem function.

My research revolves around three themes: documenting the diversity of mycorrhizal communities; developing a mechanistic understanding of how these symbioses affect community and ecosystem processes, and examining the consequences of alterations in climate, land-use, and species invasions on this relationship.  To address these themes, I use lab and field experiments and a variety of analytical approaches including stable isotopes, high throughput sequencing, and fluorescent metabolic tracers.

Current research projects include:

- Arbuscular mycorrhizal responses to shifting soil moisture regimes in a dry seasonal tropical forest (Yucatan, Mexico).  We have installed rain-out shelters to examine the extent to which mycorrhizal fungal diversity and community structure may be influenced by shifts in rainfall, and test resilience and adaptation of mycorrhizal fungi to changes in the global environment.

- Mycorrhizal diversity and functioning in the Amaryllidaceae: placing mycorrhizal fungi in a phylogenetic context in a horticulturally-important group.  Surprisingly little has been recorded on the mycorrhizal symbioses of the Amaryllidaceae.  This research seeks to determine the phylogenetic distribution and functional importance of root symbionts in the Amaryllidaceae.

- Invasive plant effects on soil microbial communities. This project examines the role of a less-well known invasive, the day lily (Hemerocallis), on microbial community structure and C and N cycling and possible feedbacks to plant growth and woodland restoration.

- Biogeochemical cycling in green roof ecosystems.  Green roofs are well known for their physical properties, e.g., reducing run-off.  The capacity of their soil systems for nutrient cycling, however, is not.  We are currently exploring the extent to which microbial C and N cycling occurs in green roof systems.

My research program actively involves high-school students (summer only), undergraduates (summer only), and graduate students (year-round).

Selected Publications: 

Graham, R.C., Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Hendrix, P.F., Shouse, P.J., Johnson-Maynard, J.L., Quideau, S.A., Sternberg, P.D., Jobes, J.A., and Breiner, J.M. (2016).  Post-fire pedogenic response: wildfire effects on the soil environment in a 60-year-old biosequence.   Soil Science Society of America Journal, in press.

Egerton-Warburton, L.M.  (2015). Inoculation of Eucalyptus with ectomycorrhizal Pisolithus enhances plant growth and mineral nutrition in acidic coal spoil.  Applied and Environmental Soil Science vol. 2015, doi:10.1155/2015/803821

Schreiner, K.M., Blair, N.E., Levinson, W., and Egerton-Warburton, L.M. (2014). Contribution of fungal macromolecules to soil carbon sequestration. In: Progress in Soil Science 2014: Soil Carbon (Eds. A. Hartemink and K. McSweeney): pp. 155-161 Springer, Berlin.

DeLong, J.R., Swarts, N., Dixon, K.W., and Egerton-Warburton, L.M. (2013). Mycorrhizal preference promotes habitat invasion by a native Australian orchid: Microtis media Annals of Botany 111: 409-418

Querejeta, J.I., Egerton-Waburton, L.M., Prieto, I., Vargas, R., and Allen, M.F. (2012). Changes in soil hyphal abundance and viability can alter the patterns of hydraulic redistribution by plant roots. Plant and Soil 355: 63-73.

Querejeta, Egerton-Warburton, L.M., and Allen, M.F. (2009).  Differential access to groundwater modulates the mycorrhizal responsiveness of oaks to inter-annual rainfall variability in a California woodland.  Ecology 90: 649-662.

Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Querejeta, J.I., and Allen, M.F. (2008). Efflux of hydraulically-lifted water by mycorrhizal hyphae during imposed drought.  Plant Signaling and Behavior 3: 68-71.  

Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Johnson, N.C., and Allen, E.B. (2007). Mycorrhizal community dynamics following nitrogen fertilization: a cross-site test in five grasslands. Ecological Monographs 77: 527-544.

PQuerejeta, J.I., Egerton-Warburton, L.M., and Allen, M.F. (2003).  Direct nocturnal water transfer from oaks to their mycorrhizal symbionts during severe soil drying. Oecologia 134: 55-64.

Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Graham, R.C., Allen, E.B, and Allen, M.F. (2001). Reconstruction of the historical changes in mycorrhizal fungal communities under anthropogenic nitrogen deposition. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 268: 2479-2484.

Egerton-Warburton, L.M., and Allen, E.B. (2000).  Shifts in the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi along an anthropogenic nitrogen deposition gradient. Ecological Applications 10: 484- 496.

Graduate Students: 
Current Students:
Lauren Umek, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Benjamin Morgan, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Jessica Ross, MS student, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Kaiyue Zhou, MS student, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Matt McCreary, Ph.D. candidate, University of Illinois, Chicago (Committee)
Chen Ning, Ph.D. student, Northwestern University (Committee)
Lynnaun Johnson, Ph.D. student, Northwestern University (Committee)
Past Students:
Corey Palmer (Northwestern University, M.S., 2014) (Advisor)
Robert Hevey (Northwestern University, M.S., 2014) (Advisor)
Nik Desai (Northwestern University, M.S., 2013) (Advisor)
Jonathan DeLong (Northwestern University, M.S., 2009) (Advisor)
Joseph Gawronski-Salerno (Northwestern University, M.S., 2008) (Advisor)
Rachel Gross (Northwestern University, M.S., 2008) (Advisor)
Anne Neis (Northwestern University, M.S., 2014) (Committee)
Duane Ambroz (Northwestern University, M.S., 2010) (Committee)
Zaid McKee-Krisberg (University of Illinois, Chicago, M.S., 2009) (Committee)
Lauren Umek (Northwestern University, M.S., 2007) (Committee)
Kara Borden (University of Illinois, Chicago, M.S., 2007) (Committee)

International Culture Collection of (Vesicular) Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (INVAM) and La Banque Européenne des Glomales (BEG)
INVAM and BEG are curated, living culture collections, where the primary goal is to acquire, propagate, characterize, and maintain germplasm of AMF in living cultures for preservation and distribution to any person or institution.  Both sites contain germplasm information and accessions, basic tools in fungal biology, taxonomy, and ecology of AMF.

DEEMY DEEMY is an information system for the morphological characterization of ectomycorrhizal fungi.

UNITE UNITE is molecular database for the identification of fungi, primarily fungal rDNA ITS sequences, and designed to facilitate identification of environmental samples of fungal DNA.