Matthias C Rillig

Matthias C Rillig
Freie Universität Berlin | FUB · Institute of Biology

Professor
Research and making youtube videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/mrillig

About

543
Publications
270,471
Reads
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42,611
Citations
Introduction
In my lab we are interested in soil fungi (arbuscular mycorrhizal, saprobic, and parasitic), biodiversity, global change (including microplastic), and the application of ecological principles to soil. Follow us on twitter @mrillig or visit our lab's site at rilliglab.wordpress.com.
Additional affiliations
January 2008 - present
Freie Universität Berlin
January 2001 - December 2012
University of Montana
January 1999 - present
Carnegie Institution for Science
Education
August 1993 - December 1997
University of California at Davis/ San Diego State University
Field of study
  • Ecology

Publications

Publications (543)
Article
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Microbial communities are enigmatically diverse. We propose a novel view of processes likely affecting microbial assemblages, which could be viewed as the Great American Interchange en miniature: the wholesale exchange among microbial communities resulting from moving pieces of the environment containing entire assemblages. Incidental evidence for...
Article
Introduction: pathways of influence and pervasiveness of effects II. AM fungal richness effects on ecosystem functions III. Other dimensions of biodiversity IV. Back to basics - primary axes of niche differentiation by AM fungi V. Functional diversity of AM fungi - a role for biological stoichiometry? VI. Past, novel and future ecosystems VII. Opp...
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All ecological disciplines consider temporal dynamics, although relevant concepts have been developed almost independently. We here introduce basic principles of temporal dynamics in ecology. We figured out essential features that describe temporal dynamics by finding similarities among about 60 ecological concepts and theories. We found that consi...
Article
Many factors influence global change Global environmental change is driven by multiple natural and anthropogenic factors. With a focus on global change as it affects soils, Rillig et al. point out that nearly all published studies consider just one or two factors at a time (see the Perspective by Manning). In a laboratory experiment, they tested 10...
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Colonization of terrestrial environments by filamentous fungi relies on their ability to form networks that can forage for and connect resource patches. Despite the importance of these networks, ecologists rarely consider network features as functional traits because their measurement and interpretation are conceptually and methodologically difficu...
Article
Fungi play key roles in ecosystems and human societies as decomposers, nutrient cyclers, mutualists, and pathogens. Estimates suggest that roughly 3–13 million fungal species exist worldwide, yet considerable knowledge gaps exist regarding the mechanisms and consequences, both ecological and social, of fungal dispersal from local to global scales....
Article
Ecological networks such as plant–pollinator systems and food webs vary in space and time. This variability includes fluctuations in global properties such as the total number and intensity of interactions in the network but also in the number and intensity of local (i.e. node level) species interactions. Fluctuations of species' properties can sig...
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Root associated fungal (RAF) communities can exert strong effects on plant communities and are potentially sensitive to shifts in soil fertility. As increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) deposition can alter the nutrient balance in natural ecosystems, we assessed the response of RAF communities to a fertilization experiment deployed...
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Microplastic (MP) pollution poses a threat to agricultural soils and may induce a significant loss of the soil quality and services provided by these ecosystems. Studies in marine environments suggest that this impact is mediated by shifts in the microbiome. However, studies on the mode of action of MP materials on the soil microbiome are rare, par...
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The microbial communities inhabiting urban soils determine the functioning of these soils, in regards to their ability to cycle nutrients and support plant communities. In an increasingly urbanized world these properties are of the utmost importance, and the microbial communities responsible are worthy of exploration. We used 53 grassland sites spr...
Article
Few microbiome-based solutions for agricultural productivity, food processing and human nutrition have been successfully commercialized. A systems-based approach that considers the ecology of microbial communities may help finetune extant tools to increase their reliability while promoting innovation and greater adoption.
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Microplastics affect plants and soil biota and the processes they drive. However, the legacy effect of microplastics on plant–soil feedbacks is still unknown. To address this, we used soil conditioned from a previous experiment, where Daucus carota grew with 12 different microplastic types (conditioning phase). Here, we extracted soil inoculum from...
Article
Improving nitrogen (N) use efficiency (NUE) to reduce the application of N fertilizers in a way that benefits the environment and reduces farmers' costs is an ongoing objective for sustainable wheat production. However, whether and how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) affect NUE in wheat is still not well explored. Three independent but complemen...
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Phosphorus (P) acquisition is key for plant growth. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) help plants acquire P from soil. Understanding which factors drive AMF-supported nutrient uptake is essential to develop more sustainable agroecosystems. Here we collected soils from 150 cereal fields and 60 non-cropped grassland sites across a 3,000 km trans-Eur...
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Biodiversity is crucial for the provision of ecosystem functions. However, ecosystems are now exposed to a rapidly growing number of anthropogenic pressures, and it remains unknown whether biodiversity can still promote ecosystem functions under multifaceted pressures. Here we investigated the effects of soil microbial diversity on soil functions a...
Article
Protists are abundant, diverse and perform essential functions in soils. Protistan community structure and its change across time or space are traditionally studied at the species-level but the relative importance of the processes shaping these patterns depends on the taxon phylogenetic resolution. Using 18S rDNA amplicon data of the Cercozoa, a gr...
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Open-cast mining leads to the loss of naturally developed soils and their ecosystem functions and services. Soil restoration after mining aims to restore the agricultural productivity in which the functions of the fungal community play a crucial role. Whether fungi reach a comparable functional state as in the soil before mining within half a centu...
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“Plastisphere”, microbial communities colonizing plastic debris, has sparked global concern for marine ecosystems. Microbiome inhabiting this novel human-made niche has been increasingly characterized; however, whether the plastisphere holds crucial roles in biogeochemical cycling remains largely unknown. Here we evaluate the potential of plastisph...
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Despite their ubiquity in terrestrial ecosystems, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) experience dispersion constraints and thus depend on the spatial distribution of the plant hosts. Our understanding of fungal-plant interactions with respect to their spatial distributions and implications for the functioning of the symbiosis remain limited. We her...
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Background The vast majority of terrestrial plants, including most crops, associate with fungi of the phylum Glomeromycota to form symbiotic associations, known as arbuscular mycorrhizas. Arbuscular mycorrhizas play a pivotal role in the terrestrial cycling of nitrogen (N). Recent advances in mycorrhizal research show that arbuscular mycorrhizal fu...
Article
Microplastics are recognized as a factor of global change contaminating many environmental compartments. Agricultural soils are very likely to receive microplastic contamination and are of particular concern due to their role in food production. Microplastic fibers have already been shown to be able to affect soil properties, but their effect on di...
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Soils are impacted globally by several anthropogenic factors, including chemical pollutants. Among those, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of concern due to their high environmental persistence, and as they might affect soil structure and function. However, data on impacts of PFAS on soil structure and microbially-driven pro...
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Biodiversity drives the maintenance and stability of ecosystem functioning as well as many of nature’s benefits to people, yet people cause substantial biodiversity change. Despite broad consensus about a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF), the underlying mechanisms and their context-dependencies are not well...
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Despite growing environmental concerns about perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) worldwide, the ultra‐short‐chain PFAS, e.g., trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), have been largely neglected in the context of soil pollution. Given the persistence and increasing occurrence of TFA in the soil environment, the accumulated TFA could impact soil...
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Drought causes soil feedback effects on plant performance. However, how the linkages between conditioned soil biota and root traits contribute to explain plant‐soil feedback (PSF) as a function of drought is unknown. We utilized soil inoculum from a conditioning experiment where grassland species grew under well‐watered and drought conditions and w...
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Filamentous fungi are characterised by specific features, such as multinuclearity, coexistence of genetically different nuclei and nuclear movement across the mycelial network. These attributes make them an interesting, yet rather underappreciated, system for studying (eco)evolutionary dynamics. This is especially noticeable among theoretical studi...
Article
Deterministic and neutral processes shape the biogeography of fungi. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), an important group of plant root symbionts, remains poorly studied in the Neotropics. Here, we provided the first molecular survey of AMF diversity and tested whether the environment or space shapes AMF biogeography along a 12° latitudinal trans...
Preprint
The control of soil nitrous dioxide (N 2 O) emission is of great importance to deal with climate change. We conducted a meta-analysis to quantify the potential effect of biotic and abiotic factors possibly altering the role of (AM) fungi in reducing soil N 2 O emission directly and indirectly via NH 3 emission in natural and managed ecosystems. Our...
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Soil biodiversity and related ecosystem functions are neglected in most biodiversity assessments and nature conservation actions. Through an overview of how society, and particularly policy‐makers, have addressed these aspects in the past, we here show that the protection and nature conservation targeting of soil biodiversity has been insufficient....
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Microplastic contamination, like other global change factors, can induce effects on ecosystem functions and processes, affecting various soil biophysical properties. However, effects of such contaminants on nutrient cycles in agroecosystems are still poorly understood. We here performed two pot experiments to investigate the effect of polyester mic...
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Symbioses between plants and fungi are important in both promoting plant fitness and maintaining soil structure. The ways in which these relationships change across an urban gradient is subject to debate. Here we measured root colonisation including the presence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, non-mycorrhizal fungi, and root hair presence. We foun...
Preprint
Theory and experiments have demonstrated that negative plant-soil feedback promotes coexistence between plant species. Plants and soils, however, face the challenge of an increasingly unpredictable environment due to multiple global change factors, including but not limited to climate change. Environmental stochasticity generally reduces the space...
Article
During the last few decades, a plethora of sequencing studies provided insight into fungal community composition under various environmental conditions. Still, the mechanisms of species assembly and fungal spread in soil remains largely unknown. While mycelial growth patterns are studied extensively, the abundant formation of asexual spores is ofte...
Article
Tire wear particles (TWP) have caused widespread contamination in the environment. However, their behavior and potential impacts in soil remain unclear since studies have so far been mainly conducted in aquatic ecosystems. It is possible that soil ecosystems are already under pressure from pollution by TWP. We here firstly synthesize knowledge abou...
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Plant belowground organs perform essential functions, including water and nutrient uptake, anchorage, vegetative reproduction and recruitment of mutualistic soil microbiota. Recently, multivariate analyses showed that root traits of species can largely be linked to a ‘conservation’ and a ‘collaboration’ gradient. Here, we tested whether this specie...
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Similarity of Stressors Ecosystem managers and environmental scientists need novel tools to understand and tame the diversity of anthropogenic stressors threatening biodiversity worldwide. In article number ntls.20210076, James Orr, Matthias Rillig and Michelle Jackson develop a scale‐dependent and multifaceted framework to assess the similarity of...
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This study aims to investigate the role of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis in reducing N loss from paddy fields, using two rice lines: a mycorrhiza-defective rice line (non-mycorrhizal) and its mycorrhizal progenitor. Two rice lines were grown in the presence of an AM fungal isolate. In this study, N loss of runoff, leaching, N2O emission, an...
Preprint
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Microplastic is recognized as a factor of global change affecting many environmental compartments. Agricultural soils are likely hotspots of microplastic contamination in terrestrial ecosystems and are of particular concern due to their role in food production. Microplastic has already been shown to be able to affect soil properties, but its effect...
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Microplastics and plant litter are ubiquitous in the soil environment, and both materials can influence soil properties and biota. Plant litter releases secondary metabolites (e.g., phenolic compounds) during the decomposition process, including chemical compounds active in plant defense. Effects of microplastics and plant litter on soil biota have...
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Archaeal communities in arable soils are dominated by Nitrososphaeria, a class within Thaumarchaeota comprising all known ammonia‐oxidizing archaea (AOA). AOA are key players in the nitrogen cycle and defining their niche specialization can help predicting effects of environmental change on these communities. However, hierarchical effects of enviro...
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Early terrestrial plants colonizing land likely relied on arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) associations to meet their nutrient needs (Smith and Read 2008 but see Bidartondo et al. 2011). Despite occasional diversifications towards other mycorrhizal association strategies (Hoeksema 2010; Feijen et al. 2018), the AM symbiosis shows a remarkable persistenc...
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Human influences have created a world where all ecosystems are exposed to multiple stressors with diverse characteristics and impacts. Organizing this ever-expanding list of stressors presents the opportunity to derive general rules, to understand effects and to improve predictions. Assessing the similarity of anthropogenic stressors can be approac...
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In this study the impacts of urbanity on physical soil properties were explored by measuring water stable aggregates, combined particle size, infiltration rate and hydrophobicity across an urban gradient. The use of a gradient allowed for the relative importance of different environmental drivers to be assessed. We sampled 54 sites across Berlin an...
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Introduction Soil microplastic (MP) pollution has emerged as a main factor of global change, but its effects on soil nutrient availability and uptake by crops (macro and micronutrients) are largely unknown. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are regulators of nutrient availability and uptake and can interact with soil MP. Materials and Methods Bui...
Preprint
Soils are impacted at a global scale by several anthropogenic factors, including chemical pollutants. Among those, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of concern due to their high environmental persistence, and as they might affect soil health and functions. However, data on impacts of PFASs on soil structure and microbially-dr...
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Research synthesis on simple yet general hypotheses and ideas is challenging in scientific disciplines studying highly context-dependent systems such as medical, social, and biological sciences. This study shows that machine learning, equation-free statistical modeling of artificial intelligence, is a promising synthesis tool for discovering novel...
Article
The symbiosis between arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, subphylum Glomeromycotina, and terrestrial plants is one of the most widespread and arguably most successful plant symbioses on Earth. This ancient relationship, going back 475 MY (Remy et al., 1994; Redecker & Raab, 2006; Field et al., 2015; Rich et al., 2021) is beneficial for the fungi and...
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Anthropogenic disturbances pose a multitude of novel challenges to ecosystems. While many experiments have tested effects using abrupt treatment applications, most environmental changes in fact are gradual. Since ecosystem responses might be highly dependent on the temporal nature of stressors, it is crucial to differentiate the effects of abrupt v...
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Tire-wear particles (TWPs) are being released into the environment by wearing down during car driving, and are considered an important microplastic pollution source. The chemical additive leaching from these polymer-based materials and its potential effects are likely temporally dynamic, since amounts of potentially toxic compounds can gradually in...
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Root traits respond to drought in a species‐specific manner, but little is known about how soil fungal communities and root traits respond to drought in concert. In a glasshouse experiment, we determined the response of soil pathogens, saprotrophs, mutualistic and all fungi associated with the roots of 24 plant species subjected to drought. At harv...
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Plant‐soil systems are key for understanding the effects of factors of global change. Recent work has highlighted the general importance of considering the simultaneous incidence of a number of factors or stressors. To help mechanistically dissect the possible interactions of such factors, we here propose three broad groups of mechanisms that may g...
Article
Climate extremes pose enormous threats to natural ecosystems. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are key plant symbionts that can affect plant community dynamics and ecosystem stability. However, knowledge about how AM fungal communities respond to climate extremes in natural ecosystems remains elusive. Based on a grassland extreme drought experimen...
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Tire particles (TPs) are a major source of microplastic on land, and considering their chemical composition, they represent a potential hazard for the terrestrial environment. We studied the effects of TPs at environmentally relevant concentrations along a wide concentration gradient (0–160 mg g ⁻¹ ) and tested the effects on plant growth, soil pH...
Preprint
Phosphorus (P) acquisition is key for global food production. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) help plants acquire P and are considered key for the design of sustainable agroecosystems. However, how the functioning of AMF varies across agricultural soils and responds to management practices is still unknown. Here, we collected soils from 150 cere...
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Small animals living in soils, called soil invertebrates, represent a very diverse group of soil inhabitants. They include earthworms, woodlice, spiders, springtails, mites, and some insects. Soil invertebrates feed on dead plants, on fungi and bacteria, or on other soil invertebrates. The many ways soil invertebrates interact with each other, and...
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Aim Quantify direct and indirect relationships between soil microbial community properties (potential basal respiration, microbial biomass) and abiotic factors (soil, climate) in three major land-cover types. Location Europe. Time period 2018. Major taxa studied Microbial community (fungi and bacteria). Methods We collected 881 soil samples fro...
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Microplastics (MPs) can now be found in all the Earth's biomes, thereby representing a global change phenomenon with largely unknown consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Soil protists are eukaryotic, primarily single celled organisms that play important roles in the soil food web. Microplastics have been shown to affect protist...