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News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

IMAGE:  Are barnacle geese capable of predicting climate change? They need to arrive at their breeding grounds just as the snow has melted. But the climate in the Arctic is changing... view more The breeding grounds of Arctic migratory birds such as the barnacle goose are changing rapidly due to accelerated warming in the polar regions. They won't be able to keep up with this climate change unless they can somehow anticipate it. A research team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) employed computer models to assess the future of the geese and their young. Results are being published online by the scientific journal Global Change Biology. It's the time of year when barnacle geese and many other migratory birds prepare to depart for their breeding grounds above the Arctic Circle. From their wintering grounds in the Netherlands, the geese fly all the way up to the Barentsz Sea in northern Russia, where they should arrive just as the snow has melted. But in the polar regions, the climate is warming much more rapidly than in more temperate areas like the Netherlands - a phenomenon known as 'Arctic amplification'. It's hard enough for humans to get to grips with the accelerated warming, let alone for barnacle geese, as an earlier NIOO-led study showed. After all, how can they tell from their wintering grounds if the snow has begun to melt thousands of kilometres away? So is it possible for the barnacle geese to advance their spring migration nonetheless, to predict climate change? Ecologist Thomas Lameris and his fellow researchers from NIOO, and also the Swiss Ornithological Institute among other institutions, have tried to find the answer. "This is the first study that tests if migratory birds are in any way able to adjust their timing to the accelerated warming in the polar regions. We used a model to show that the availability of enough edible grass to build up reserves for their journey is not a problem for the barnacle geese. It's the unpredictability of the climatic changes in their breeding grounds that spells trouble for them." If the geese continue to mistime their arrival, their reproductive success will be reduced. Lameris: "They miss their optimal breeding window and the peak in local food abundance, so fewer goslings will survive." Some compensation for this comes from the fact that as well as starting earlier, the breeding season is becoming longer. This gives the goslings more time to grow. But that's not enough. To establish the barnacle geese's potential for anticipating climate change, the researchers built a model that tracks individual geese as they fly to their breeding grounds in northern Russia and make stopovers along the route. "In the model, the geese have to make a choice each day: stay in their present location and continue to feed, or fly to the next stopover." The researchers tested the model for various gradations of climatic warming. The barnacle goose is an ideal 'model species' for studying the effects of climate changes, because researchers have been able to study this animal for decades. But it's not just about a single species. Lameris: "Our results are probably valid for many more species of Arctic-breeding migratory birds, and certainly for other geese such as the white-fronted and the brent goose." On the whole, geese are clever birds. Goslings learn the migration route from their parents, including the best places to stop over and build up fat reserves. "So if they do change the timing of their arrival, it would be easy to pass that on to the next generation", Lameris argues hopefully. "The main question is whether geese and other migratory birds can adapt as fast as the climate changes, to keep up." With more than 300 staff members and students, NIOO is one of the largest research institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The institute specialises in water and land ecology. As of 2011, the institute is located in an innovative and sustainable research building in Wageningen, the Netherlands. NIOO has an impressive research history that stretches back 60 years and spans the entire country, and beyond.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Micro-organisms communicate with each other -- and the rest of the world -- through smells If you're small, smells are a good way to stand out. A team of researchers led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has demonstrated for the first time that two different types of micro-organisms -- bacteria and fungi -- use fragrances, known as terpenes, to hold conversations. And that's not all. "We actually believe that terpenes are the most popular chemical medium on our planet to communicate through." The most used language in the world? Think again, it's probably 'Terpene'! Research by microbial ecologists from NIOO and their colleagues has demonstrated that two very different groups of micro-organisms use fragrances to communicate with each other, the most common type being terpenes. In only one gram of soil billions of micro-organisms are thriving, so that makes many 'speakers'. On top of that: this 'chemical communication' will probably work for a whole bunch of other life forms as well. This is what the research team discovers in Scientific Reports, a relatively new journal from the Nature family. The researchers have demonstrated that bacteria and fungi do in fact respond to each other. In other words: they can hold conversations. Group leader Paolina Garbeva explains: "Serratia, a soil bacterium, can 'smell' the fragrant terpenes produced by Fusarium, a plant pathogenic fungus. It responds by becoming motile and producing a terpene of its own." The researchers established this by studying which genes were switched 'on' by the bacterium, which proteins it began to produce and which fragrance. Or, in more fancy terms: by using transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic techniques. "Such fragrances -- or volatile organic compounds -- are not just some waste product, they are instruments targeted specifically at long-distance communication between these minute fungi and bacteria." But how widespread is this 'language of smells'? Pathogenic soil fungi such as Fusarium also have an effect aboveground, where they make plants sick. Can they communicate with those plants? Garbeva: "We have known for some time that plants and insects use terpenes to communicate with each other. But we've only just begun to realise that it's actually much wider. There is a much larger group of 'Terpene-speakers': micro-organisms." Fungi, protists, bacteria, and even higher animals. Terpenes act as pheromones -- chemical signals used by animals -- which makes them a regular ingredient of perfumes. So it's likely that the language of terpenes forms a vast chemical communications network indeed. Terpenes are by no means the only volatile organic compounds that are in for a good chat. The researchers found others as well: in the soil, for instance. Garbeva's PhD student Ruth Schmidt, the first author of the article, adds: "Organisms are multilingual, but 'Terpene' is the one that's used most often." Who knows, maybe without realising it we are native speakers too? With more than 300 staff members and students, NIOO is one of the largest research institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The institute specialises in water and land ecology. As of 2011, the institute is located in an innovative and sustainable research building in Wageningen, the Netherlands. NIOO has an impressive research history that stretches back 60 years and spans the entire country, and beyond.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: phys.org

Having a good conversation: Soil fungus Fusarium and the unrelated soil bacteria. Credit: 21 Lux photography/Heike Engel If you're small, smells are a good way to stand out. A team of researchers led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has demonstrated for the first time that two different types of micro-organisms—bacteria and fungi—use fragrances, known as terpenes, to hold conversations. And that's not all: "We actually believe that terpenes are the most popular chemical medium on our planet to communicate through," they report. Research by microbial ecologists from NIOO and their colleagues has demonstrated that two very different groups of micro-organisms use fragrances to communicate with each other, the most common type being terpenes. In only one gram of soil, billions of micro-organisms thrive, all communicating chemically. This chemical communication is likely prevalent in other life forms, as well, as the research team reports in Scientific Reports. The researchers have demonstrated that bacteria and fungi do, in fact, respond to each other—in other words, they can hold conversations. Group leader Paolina Garbeva explains: "Serratia, a soil bacterium, can smell the fragrant terpenes produced by Fusarium, a plant pathogenic fungus. It responds by becoming motile and producing a terpene of its own." The researchers established this by studying which genes were activated by the bacterium, which proteins it began to produce, and which fragrance by using transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic techniques. "Such fragrances—or volatile organic compounds—are not just some waste product, they are instruments targeted specifically at long-distance communication between these minute fungi and bacteria." But how widespread is this language of smells? Pathogenic soil fungi such as Fusarium also have an effect aboveground, where they make plants sick. Can they communicate with those plants? Garbeva says, "We have known for some time that plants and insects use terpenes to communicate with each other. But we've only just begun to realise that it's actually much wider. There is a much larger group of 'terpene-speakers': micro-organisms." For fungi, protists, bacteria, and even higher animals, terpenes act as pheromones—chemical signals used by animals—which makes them a regular ingredient of perfumes. So it's likely that the language of terpenes forms a vast chemical communications network, indeed. Terpenes are by no means the only volatile organic compounds that are in for a good chat. The researchers found others, as well. Garbeva's Ph.D. student, Ruth Schmidt, the first author of the article, adds: "Organisms are multilingual, but 'terpene' is the language that's used most often." Who knows? Maybe without realising it, humans are native speakers too. Explore further: Sniffing out your dinner in the dark: How miniature predators get their favourite soil bacteria More information: Ruth Schmidt et al, Fungal volatile compounds induce production of the secondary metabolite Sodorifen in Serratia plymuthica PRI-2C, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-00893-3


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: phys.org

Each spring, barnacle geese have to fly a long way to their breeding grounds. It's a couple of thousand kilometres to Arctic Russia, where they have to arrive just as the snow has melted. Are they able to predict the vastly changing climate there from their wintering grounds? Credit: Jasper Koster The breeding grounds of Arctic migratory birds such as the barnacle goose are changing rapidly due to accelerated warming in the polar regions. They won't be able to keep up with this climate change unless they can somehow anticipate it. A research team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) employed computer models to assess the future of the geese and their young. Results are being published online by the scientific journal Global Change Biology. It's the time of year when barnacle geese and many other migratory birds prepare to depart for their breeding grounds above the Arctic Circle. From their wintering grounds in the Netherlands, the geese fly all the way up to the Barentsz Sea in northern Russia, where they should arrive just as the snow has melted. But in the polar regions, the climate is warming much more rapidly than in more temperate areas like the Netherlands - a phenomenon known as 'Arctic amplification'. It's hard enough for humans to get to grips with the accelerated warming, let alone for barnacle geese, as an earlier NIOO-led study showed. After all, how can they tell from their wintering grounds if the snow has begun to melt thousands of kilometres away? So is it possible for the barnacle geese to advance their spring migration nonetheless, to predict climate change? Ecologist Thomas Lameris and his fellow researchers from NIOO, and also the Swiss Ornithological Institute among other institutions, have tried to find the answer. "This is the first study that tests if migratory birds are in any way able to adjust their timing to the accelerated warming in the polar regions. We used a model to show that the availability of enough edible grass to build up reserves for their journey is not a problem for the barnacle geese. It's the unpredictability of the climatic changes in their breeding grounds that spells trouble for them." If the geese continue to mistime their arrival, their reproductive success will be reduced. Lameris: "They miss their optimal breeding window and the peak in local food abundance, so fewer goslings will survive." Some compensation for this comes from the fact that as well as starting earlier, the breeding season is becoming longer. This gives the goslings more time to grow. But that's not enough. To establish the barnacle geese's potential for anticipating climate change, the researchers built a model that tracks individual geese as they fly to their breeding grounds in northern Russia and make stopovers along the route. "In the model, the geese have to make a choice each day: stay in their present location and continue to feed, or fly to the next stopover." The researchers tested the model for various gradations of climatic warming. The barnacle goose is an ideal 'model species' for studying the effects of climate changes, because researchers have been able to study this animal for decades. But it's not just about a single species. Lameris: "Our results are probably valid for many more species of Arctic-breeding migratory birds, and certainly for other geese such as the white-fronted and the brent goose." On the whole, geese are clever birds. Goslings learn the migration route from their parents, including the best places to stop over and build up fat reserves. "So if they do change the timing of their arrival, it would be easy to pass that on to the next generation", Lameris argues hopefully. "The main question is whether geese and other migratory birds can adapt as fast as the climate changes, to keep up." Explore further: Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese More information: Thomas K. Lameris et al, Potential for an Arctic-breeding migratory bird to adjust spring migration phenology to Arctic amplification, Global Change Biology (2017). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13684


Mendes R.,Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology | Garbeva P.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Raaijmakers J.M.,Wageningen University
FEMS Microbiology Reviews | Year: 2013

Microbial communities play a pivotal role in the functioning of plants by influencing their physiology and development. While many members of the rhizosphere microbiome are beneficial to plant growth, also plant pathogenic microorganisms colonize the rhizosphere striving to break through the protective microbial shield and to overcome the innate plant defense mechanisms in order to cause disease. A third group of microorganisms that can be found in the rhizosphere are the true and opportunistic human pathogenic bacteria, which can be carried on or in plant tissue and may cause disease when introduced into debilitated humans. Although the importance of the rhizosphere microbiome for plant growth has been widely recognized, for the vast majority of rhizosphere microorganisms no knowledge exists. To enhance plant growth and health, it is essential to know which microorganism is present in the rhizosphere microbiome and what they are doing. Here, we review the main functions of rhizosphere microorganisms and how they impact on health and disease. We discuss the mechanisms involved in the multitrophic interactions and chemical dialogues that occur in the rhizosphere. Finally, we highlight several strategies to redirect or reshape the rhizosphere microbiome in favor of microorganisms that are beneficial to plant growth and health. In this review, we focus on the frequency, diversity and activities of beneficial ('the good'), plant pathogenic ('the bad') and human pathogenic ('the ugly') microorganisms in the rhizosphere and how they impact on health and disease. Specific attention is given to mechanisms involved in multitrophic interactions and chemical dialogues that occur in the rhizosphere. Finally, we discuss strategies to re-direct or re-shape the rhizosphere microbiome in favour of those microbes that are beneficial to plant growth and health. © 2013 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.


Bodelier P.L.E.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2011

Recent dynamics and uncertainties in global methane budgets necessitate research of controls of sources and sinks of atmospheric methane. Production of methane by methanogenic archaea in wetlands is a major source while consumption by methane oxidizing bacteria in upland soils is a major sink. Methane formation as well as consumption is affected by nitrogenous fertilizers as has been studied intensively. This review synthesizes the results of these studies which are contradictory and await mechanistic explanations. These can be found in the community composition and the traits of the microbes involved in methane cycling. Molecular microbial investigations, use of stable isotope labeling techniques, discoveries and isolation of new species and pathways offer new insight into interactions between nitrogen and methane cycling. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Schaper S.V.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
The American naturalist | Year: 2012

Timing of reproduction in temperate-zone birds is strongly correlated with spring temperature, with an earlier onset of breeding in warmer years. Females adjust their timing of egg laying between years to be synchronized with local food sources and thereby optimize reproductive output. However, climate change currently disrupts the link between predictive environmental cues and spring phenology. To investigate direct effects of temperature on the decision to lay and its genetic basis, we used pairs of great tits (Parus major) with known ancestry and exposed them to simulated spring scenarios in climate-controlled aviaries. In each of three years, we exposed birds to different patterns of changing temperature. We varied the timing of a temperature change, the daily temperature amplitude, and the onset and speed of a seasonal temperature rise. We show that females fine-tune their laying in response to a seasonal increase in temperature, whereas mean temperature and daily temperature variation alone do not affect laying dates. Luteinizing hormone concentrations and gonadal growth in early spring were not influenced by temperature or temperature rise, possibly posing a constraint to an advancement of breeding. Similarities between sisters in their laying dates indicate genetic variation in cue sensitivity. These results refine our understanding of how changes in spring climate might affect the mismatch in avian timing and thereby population viability.


Bardgett R.D.,University of Manchester | Van Der Putten W.H.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Van Der Putten W.H.,Wageningen University
Nature | Year: 2014

Evidence is mounting that the immense diversity of microorganisms and animals that live belowground contributes significantly to shaping aboveground biodiversity and the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Our understanding of how this belowground biodiversity is distributed, and how it regulates the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, is rapidly growing. Evidence also points to soil biodiversity as having a key role in determining the ecological and evolutionary responses of terrestrial ecosystems to current and future environmental change. Here we review recent progress and propose avenues for further research in this field. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Gienapp P.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2013

Populations need to adapt to sustained climate change, which requires micro-evolutionary change in the long term. A key question is how the rate of this micro-evolutionary change compares with the rate of environmental change, given that theoretically there is a 'critical rate of environmental change' beyond which increased maladaptation leads to population extinction. Here, we parametrize two closely related models to predict this critical rate using data from a long-term study of great tits (Parus major). We used stochastic dynamic programming to predict changes in optimal breeding time under three different climate scenarios. Using these results we parametrized two theoretical models to predict critical rates. Results from both models agreed qualitatively in that even 'mild' rates of climate change would be close to these critical rates with respect to great tit breeding time, while for scenarios close to the upper limit of IPCC climate projections the calculated critical rates would be clearly exceeded with possible consequences for population persistence. We therefore tentatively conclude that micro-evolution, together with plasticity, would rescue only the population from mild rates of climate change, although the models make many simplifying assumptions that remain to be tested.


Van Der Putten W.H.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics | Year: 2012

Changes in climate, land use, fire incidence, and ecological connections all may contribute to current species' range shifts. Species shift range individually, and not all species shift range at the same time and rate. This variation causes community reorganization in both the old and new ranges. In terrestrial ecosystems, range shifts alter aboveground-belowground interactions, Influencing species abundance, community composition, ecosystem processes and services, and feedbacks within communities and ecosystems. Thus, range shifts may result in no-analog communities where foundation species and community genetics play unprecedented roles, possibly leading to novel ecosystems. Long-distance dispersal can enhance the disruption of aboveground-belowground interactions of plants, herbivores, pathogens, symbiotic mutualists, and decomposer organisms. These effects are most likely stronger for latitudinal than for altitudinal range shifts. Disrupted aboveground-belowground interactions may have Influenced historical postglacial range shifts as well. Assisted migration without considering aboveground-belowground interactions could enhance risks of such range shift-induced invasions. © 2012 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

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