Dr. Pierre Mariotte
Plant-Soil Interactions & Global Change Ecology

Dr. Pierre Mariotte

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Editor's Choice in Journal of Ecology

Posted on June 21, 2017 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (2)

My paper published in the last issue of Journal of Ecology has been selected as Editor's Choice! It is a great reward for all the work done during my postdoctoral research at The University of Sydney. Of course nothing could have been done without my two amazing colleagues, friends and co-authors Prof. Feike Dijkstra and Dr. Alberto Canarini.


Top 5 Most Cited Research

Posted on December 24, 2016 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (2)

Apparently my paper entitled 'Subordinate plant species impact on soil microbial communities and ecosystem functioning in grasslands: Findings from a removal experiment' and published in 2013 in Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics is one of the 5 most cited papers till June 2016.


Thank you Editors for sending this award just in time for Christmas. And thanks to my co-auhtors who helped making this article interesting to you readers.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Back to Switzerland

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

After travelling a lot during the past few months, I finally settled down in my new lab in Switzerland (ECOS lab), although I should say my past lab since it is where I did my PhD few years ago (2008-2012). I already had good times with my old and new colleagues here, as for proof this picture below of our team building this summer. I will be here in Lausanne (EPFL) for at least 2 years, except if I find a more permanent position in the meantime.


You are obviously welcomed to visit and enjoy all the nice places in Switzerland, from the lake to the mountains, summer hiking and winter skying!



Farewell - Australia

Posted on March 25, 2016 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)

My postdoc in Australia comes to an end and it is time to say goodbye. Working at The University of Sydney on Camden Campus (CCWF) was amazing. So much work and experiments done in the Dijkstra lab, thanks to a great boss and colleagues. I also met some awesome scientists at the University of Western Sydney and really enjoyed collaborating. Outside work, colleagues became friends with such good times playing Beach Volley and Ultimate Frisbee. Only good memories of this postdoc down under!

 

I will miss you.



My first interview for the Journal of Ecology Blog

Posted on January 22, 2016 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)
Listen to my interview with Michiel Veldhuis, recipent of the Harper Prize 2014, for his paper published in Journal of Ecology. Here the blog post that I wrote in addition to the podcast Journal of Ecology Blog.


2016 - New published papers

Posted on January 15, 2016 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Happy New Year 2016!


This new year starts for me with two papers just published in Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolutions and Systematics and Rangeland Ecology & Management. The first paper, which highlights the spatial segregation of subordinate species with traits comparison with the dominant species, results from a great collaboration with my Brazilian colleagues (and friends) working on the role of subordinate plant species in tropical ecosystems. I really enjoyed working with them and would love to visit them in Brazil (maybe this year?). The second paper was co-led by two amazing student researchers (Julie and Jared) from UC Berkeley during my postdoctoral research in California. For this experiment we collected cow dungs in the field and tested seed dispersal of invasive and introduced plant species by cattle.


Thanks to all the collaborators for these two great papers!



Phosphorus uptake by plants under drought

Posted on November 20, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)



New greenhouse experiment:


Phosphorus uptake by plants under drought along a soil phosphorus gradient including four native australian plant species (C3/C4).

Today: 32P labelling in the greenhouse when it is 41 degrees outside - Australian heat wave made it sweaty.

Associate Editor in Journal of Ecology

Posted on October 31, 2015 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)



I am really happy and proud to join the Journal of Ecology team as a New Associate Editor in charge of the Blog.


I am gonna work with Executive Editor David Gibson and Assistant and Managing Editors Lauren Sandhu and Andrea Baier to manage the Journal of Ecology Blog, commission and write blog posts and organise interviews. I believe that communicating science is an important part of being a ecologist and I will do my best to provide interesting content through the Blog and create a plateform of exchange between researchers.


My first contributions to the blog is an "Ecological Inspiration" post dedicated to one of the first papers that I read when I started my PhD and which considerably inspired my research - Benefits of plant diversity to ecosystems: immediate, filter and founder effects by JP Grime, 1998, Journal of Ecology.

 

 Follow the news in the Journal of Ecology Blog!


Subordinate species and soil food web stability

Posted on October 22, 2015 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

New blog post in Journal of Applied Ecology: Here!


Associate Editor Paul Kardol discusses a paper recently accepted about the role of subordinate species in sustaining the complexity and stability of soil food webs in natural bamboo forest ecosystems by Shao et al. 


In this nice blog post, Paul is citing my research on subordinate species with the "subordinate insurance hypothesis" (Mariotte 2014) and highlight the importance of better studying the interactions between subordinate species and soil microbial communities, which are expected to maintain soil ecosystem functions, especially under climate change perturbations (Mariotte et al. 2015). I am happy to see that other researchers become more and more interested in studying the effects of these low abundant species which might have disproportionate effects on ecosystem functioning.




Conference in High School - Agriculture and Climate Change

Posted on October 21, 2015 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Last week I have been invited by the French Embassy in Australia to give a conference at The International French School of Sydney (https://www.facebook.com/Lycee.Condorcet). 


My talk was entitled "Climate Change: Ecology in the service of Agriculture". I spoke about current agricultural practices and the massive use of chemical products (fertiliser, insecticides, fungicide etc.). Then I discussed the alernative methods, such as organic farming and direct seeding practices without soil tillage, which both focus on maintaining a living soil. Emphasizing the 2015 International year of soils, I explained to the students the diversity of organisms within soil food webs and their importance in agriculture. I presented some of my work on mycorrhizas and subordinate plant species, which can have some important implications for improving agricultural practices under climate change. We finished by a discussion and a lot of questions, and I was happy to see that students were really interested in scientific research and the different issues in agriculture in a changing world. This conference was a great experience and it made me very hopeful for the future, seing that the new generation has an increasing interest in changing and improving our way to produce food, eat and live in this world.


Cleaning the oceans from plastic: a whale's request!

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

An incredible story of this whale in Sydney Harbour, repeatedly getting boaters' attention until they remove a life-threatening plastic bag from its face. The plastic ban is being debated in Australian Parlament *today* and I believe that this video is a direct message from whales asking us to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans... Watch the video: au.news.yahoo.com/a/29245783


Each year, 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean. This plastic pollution considerably impacts marine ecosystems and kills millions of animals every year. But it affects also humans; the costs associated to beaches' cleaning are excessive and toxic chemicals released by plastics and accumulating in the food chains are a real threat for human health. 


However cleaning the entire oceans is not impossible as proved by The Ocean Cleanup initiative. Founded by 21 years old Boyan Slat, this initiative aims a cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years' time. I encourage everyone to support this amazing idea, explained in the following videos!


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How fungi can save the Earth?

Posted on August 4, 2015 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

For those who have not seen this Ted talk, I recommend you to watch it now. Paul Stamets is an American mycologist who received multiple awards for his ideas and research on mushrooms. In this Ted Talk, Paul gives an overview of the importance of fungi and proposes 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, by cleaning pollutated areas, making insecticides, treating viruses and more. This is a very inspiring talk, which gives hope to make changes in the world. This also highlights the fact that mutlipe tools are already available to move towards a more eco-friendly society, but remains unused or not sufficiently used.


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Rhizosphere 4

Posted on June 22, 2015 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)




I am currently in Maastricht, participating to the conference "Rhizosphere 4", where I gave the talk "Role of mycorrhizas in plant NP stoichiometry under drought in Australian grasslands". I learned a lot about rhizosphere and the importance of microbes and roots for agricultural practices and ecosystem services. This makes me believe that we already have all the knowledge to stop and survive climate change and to feed the entire world with a sustainable and eco-friendly agriculture. What we need now is more action !

Subordinate plants and fungi: what happens when these minorities join the effort?

Posted on May 3, 2015 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Another paper from my PhD research, entilted "Subordinate plants mitigate drought effects on soil ecosystem processes by stimulating fungi",  has just been accepted in Functional Ecology! Many thanks to my co-auhors and people who helped me in the field during 4 years.

When I lose faith, I watch that!

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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Some fungi make zombies

Posted on March 30, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

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(Presented by Cat Adams / BBC Campus)

While some fungi produce their own wind, other fungi produce the stuff of nightmares.


In tropical forests around the world, species of the fungal genus Ophiocordyceps infect carpenter ants, landing on the ant and then burrowing into its brain.


But this is no simple brain-siege. In Thailand, for example, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis first causes the ant to walk erratically, eventually plummeting from its normal home in the canopy to the forest floor below. The fungus then directs the ant to traverse up trees a precise number of centimetres, just less than a metre above the ground, where the temperature and humidity are ideal for fungi to thrive.


The fungus can control not only the height the ant travels to, but also the direction the ant faces, which is usually north-northwest. An uninfected ant would normally not bite a leaf, but infected ants do, clamping down on the underside of a leaf, almost always in the very middle of the leaf, where it is strongest. Like something from an science fiction story, the zombie ant bites down at precisely solar noon.


The ant then dies in this unusual position, stiff with postmortem lockjaw due to muscle atrophy from the fungi rapidly growing in its head. For up to two weeks, the ant corpse remains locked to the leaf while the fungus reproduces, eventually raining spores on unsuspecting healthy ants walking below, carrying food to their nests in the canopy.


And the zombification cycle repeats.


The zombie ant fungus Ophiocordyceps has perfected zombification to a science that has inspired both movies and video games, and was recently the topic of a science crowdfunding campaign to determine which genes are important for the fungus to control its host.


Everybody loves a good zombie story, perhaps the zombie-makers most of all.

 


Plants and the fungal web

Posted on March 24, 2015 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Plant-soil interactions are an incredibly interesting topic, which surprises and amazes me every day. Here are an example from the BBC, with plants interacting with the very dense and complex fungal web:

"Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus"


Photo: bbc.com

International Year of Soils - 2015

Posted on January 18, 2015 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Listen this interesting podcast from BBC Inside Science:

Soils. What have they ever done for us?

Adam Rutherford interviews Prof. Richard Bardgett from the University of Manchester, and other researchers, about the importance of soils for the future, related to agriculture and climate change.


Here also the flyer of the FAO.




Post-doctoral Fellowship

Posted on October 24, 2014 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)


I recently obtained the advanced postdoctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation and I am currently a postdoc in the Biogeochemistry group of the University of Sydney (Australia) led by Dr. Feike Dijkstra. My research focus on plant-soil interactions and climate change (drought and fire) in australian grasslands. You're welcome to visit !

Book available !

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

    

The book I edited with Paul Kardol entitled "Grassland Biodiversity and Conservation in a Changing World" is now available in Amazon. I am really happy to see it finished. I thank all the authors who contributed in the 10 chapters and also Paul for his invaluable help during the editing process.

Let's buy it now :)


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