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Louise Egerton-Warburton, Ph.D.

Conservation Scientist, Soil and Microbial Ecology
(847) 835-6915
Teaching and Research Affiliations: 

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

Selected Professional Associations: 

2010 – present Member, Society for Ecological Restoration
2003 – present Member, Soil Science Society of America
2000 – present Member, Mycological Society of America
1996 – present Member, Ecological Society of America

Research Interests: 
  • Mycorrhizal fungal diversity, functioning, and ecology
  • Effects of altered precipitation, land-use, and soil fertility on plant-soil interactions
  • Soil health and ecosystem resilience
  • The role(s) of mycorrhizal fungi in sustainable agriculture

The Soil Ecology Lab at the Chicago Botanic Garden is focused on furthering our understanding of the mycorrhizal symbiosis and its role in plant community composition and function.

Although largely hidden from us, mycorrhizal fungi are ubiquitous symbiotic partners within the roots of almost all land plants. These symbioses enhance nutrient and water uptake by plants, and also play a key role in stabilizing soils and enhancing carbon sequestration. As a result, any changes in the abundance of these fungi could feed back to influence the plant community and ecosystem health.  

Our current research projects reflect our interest in documenting the diversity of mycorrhizal fungi, their role in plant survival, and their responses to alterations in climate, land-use, and urbanization:

  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal community responses to shifting soil moisture regimes and soil nitrogen levels in a dry tropical forests. We have installed rainout shelters to examine the extent to which mycorrhizal fungal diversity and function may be influenced by shifts in rainfall, and their resilience to changes in the global environment. We have also initiated a nitrogen (N) fertilization project to examine the effects of increasing N inputs into tropical forests. Location: Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.
  • Soil health in restored ecosystems and sustainable agriculture. Metrics of soil health (or quality) have been frequently used to describe and monitor soil systems in agricultural fields. We are currently using a variety of soil properties to calculate soil health indices, and determine how well these indices described the status of restored grasslands and inform sustaiable agriculture. Locations: Chicago, US; Hawaii, U.S.
  • Integrating mycorrhizal ecology into the rescue of imperiled and threatened plants. The majority of management plants for the rescue and recovery of rare plant populations focus on aboveground traits, e.g., seed set and viability.  In this project, we are examining belowground factors that control plant survival, specifically, microsite specificity in the highly threatened Mulanje cedar, and the legacy effects of nursery practices on the success of seedling transplants. Location: Mt. Mulanje, Malawi.
Selected Publications: 
  • Ning, C., Mueller, G.M., Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Wilson, A.W., Yan, W., Xiang, W. (2018). Diversity and functioning of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities following nitrogen fertilization in an urban-adjacent pine plantation. Forests,  9(3), 99;
  • Desai, N., Wilson, A.W., Powers, J.M., Mueller, G.M., and Egerton-Warburton, L.M. (2016). Mycorrhizal community structure in Quercus oleoides in a restored seasonally dry tropical forest. Environmental Research Letters 11: 125007. (Special Issue on Conservation of Dry Seasonal Tropical Forests).
  • Treseder, K.K., Allen, E.B., Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Hart, M.M., Johnson, N.C., Klironomos, J.N., Maherali, H., Powell, J.R., and Tedersoo, L. (2018). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal traits could mediate ecosystem responses to nitrogen deposition.  Journal of Ecology 106: 480-489 (Special Issue on Mycorrhizal Fungi as Drivers and Modulators of Ecosystem Processes).
  • Querejeta, J.I.,Egerton-Waburton, 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.
Anthropogenic Change
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Querejeta, 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,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.
  • YostJ.L.*, Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Schreiner, K.M., Palmer, C.E., and Hartemink, A.E. (2016). Impact of restoration and management on aggregation and organic carbon accumulation in urban grasslands. Soil Science Society of America Journal 80: 992-1002.. *Undergraduate student author
  • Sollenberger, D., *Kadlec, C., O’Shaughnessy, J. and Egerton-Warburton, L.M. (2016). Environmental filtering mediates grassland community assembly following restoration with soil carbon additions. Restoration Ecology 24: 626–636.*Undergraduate student co-author
  • Allen, E.B., Allen, M.F., Egerton-Warburton, L.M., Corkidi, L., & Gomez-Pompa, A. (2003). Impacts of early- and late-seral mycorrhizae during restoration in seasonal tropical forest, Mexico. Ecological Applications 13: 1701-1717. 
Graduate Students: 
Benjamin Morgan, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Lynnaun Johnson, Ph.D. candidate, Northwestern University (Committee)
Lucas Chamberlain, M.S. student, Northwestern University (Advisor)
Lindsey Ghod, M.S. student, Northwestern University (co-Advisor)
Matt Evans, M.S. student, Northwestern University (Committee)