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Dr. W.E. (Elly) Morriën

Assistant professor
Faculty of Science
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics
Photographer: Vincent van Kleef

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
  • Room number: C3.221
Postal address
  • Postbus 94240
    1090 GE Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    Elly is a member of the Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics (ELD) group within the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). Elly is a soil ecologist interested in the interaction between plant communities and soil communities including micro- and macro-fauna. Her strength lies in analyzing and understanding interactions in multi-community data to unravel transition effects in natural systems. She is primarily a fundamental scientist interested in the mechanisms that drive these transitions in plant- and soil communities. However, she is also involved in teaching in the bachelor FPS and the master Earth sciences, within the track Environmental management and the track Future Planet Ecosystem Sciences.

    Soil cores labeled with 13C
  • Research and Education

    I am a soil ecologist working with soil scientists. This puts me in a bridging position between disciplines in which I want to fill the knowledge gap on the contribution of soil biota in stabilizing organic matter in soil. This is of high importance for global carbon storage to mitigate climate change effects but also for a healthy cycling of nutrients. Creative and not linear thinking cross-disciplinary will eventually lead to new discoveries that contribute to solve future problems on earth. I am an enthusiastic teacher in the interdisciplinary bachelor Future Planet Studies and in the master Earth Sciences. I stimulate students to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions for major future problems on earth. Next to my high impact papers and my papers in top-ecology journals, I have a very good track-record in presenting at international conferences. I also participate actively in the scientific community by serving as associate editor at Functional Ecology, being an active reviewer at a broad scope of journals, and serving on external PhD-exam committees. I have put effort in translating my scientific message into short articles and news items for the general public to highlight the relevance of my research for nature restoration of degraded lands. I hope this engagement leads to applicable innovations that actually help to restore degraded soils, soils that we so desperately need to feed the 9 billion people on Earth.

    Next to research I teach:

    1. In  the bachelor FPS (major aardwetenschappen) in the courses Toekomstperspectief voor de aarde, Plant-Soil Interactions in Agriculture, Plant-soil interactions practical and Desertification and Land Degradation. Besides the coaching of bachelor students during their bachelor project, see under "Student projects".

    2. In the master Earth sciences I teach in the course Environmental management strategies (course coordinator 2020), Biogeochemical cycles (track Enivronmental Sciences) and Grand Challenges of human-ecosystem interactions (track Future Planet Ecosystem Sciences). Besides, I have guide some students during their masters project, see under "Student projects".

    Greenhouse experiment on soil transplantation to speed up nature restoration
  • Short CV

    Employment History

    Assistant professor at  University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam

    November 2019 — Present

    Assistant professor in soil carbon cycling at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), Department of Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics (ELD).

    NWO-Veni grant laureate/ Lecturer at  University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam

    November 2015 — November 2019

    Post-doctoral research from VENI-NWO at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics (ELD) research group. Topic: Finding mechanisms that drive secondary succession in plant and soil communities. Advisor: Prof. dr. P.C. de Ruiter.

    Research Associate at  Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen

    October 2011 — November 2015

    Post-doctoral research at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), department of Terrestrial Ecology within European project EcoFINDERS. Topic: Linking soil community structure and nutrient cycling in a chronosequence of abandoned agricultural fields. Advisor: Prof. Dr. Ir. W.H. van der Putten.

    PhD-researcher at  Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen

    September 2005 — September 2011

    PhD research at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), department of Terrestrial Ecology. Topic: Climate induced range-expanding plants: above- and belowground interactions. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ir. W.H. van der Putten.

    Researcher at  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam

    June 2005 — August 2005

    Researcher “Invasion biology” at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, department of  Animal Ecology. Supervisor: Dr. M.P. Berg.

     

    Education

    Doctorate, Wageningen University, Wageningen

    September 2005 — September 2011

    BSc. Biology and MSc. Ecology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam

    September 1999 — May 2005

     

    CV highlights

    • Veni-laureate (2015)
    • My average impact factor (8,1) lies above average of my field (3,3)
    • I have one highly cited paper in my field as first author
    • Teaching qualification (BKO) obtained in 2018
    • Gold medal of honor, Tweede Teylers Genootschap, Biology competition 2017
    • Experience in coordinating a course and course development 

     

  • Student projects

    Master projects:

    Masterproject 1: Optimizing a protocol with spectroscopy methods to quickly asses aggregate stability

    Supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Erik Cammeraat from May 2020

    Carbon stabilization in soils is of essential importance for agricultural practices, a healthy soil life and to prevent leakage to the groundwater of essential plant nutrients. Carbon in soils can be stabilized in roughly two ways: binding to the organo-mineral fraction (mineral associated organic matter MAOM) and physical protected organic matter locked in soil aggregates (particulate organic matter POM). The fraction of carbon that can be bound to minerals depends on the type of mineral surface, surface charge, soil type, pH etc. This can be targeted by proper management of the land. The physical protected fraction can be large and has a great potential for optimization (Cotrufo et al. 2019). However, many fundamental information is lacking ion how to increase the stable POM-fraction. We have for example little information on the stability, turnover and dynamics of soil aggregates. It seems that microaggregates are more stable robust entities which form the building blocks for larger macro-aggregates (Totsche et al. 2018). (Le Bissonnais, 1996).

    I can also place a student that monitors aggregate stability for the different treatments or optimizes measurements for aggregate stability by trying out different methods and comparing results, f.e. compare wet sieving methods with FTIR or Vis-NIR spectroscopy measurements.

    Masterproject 2: Are there specific molecular structures of POM inside aggregates? Separating larger biotic structures from organic particles using microscopy and chemical techniques.

    Supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Boris Jansen from September 2020

    Carbon stabilization in soils is of essential importance for agricultural practices, a healthy soil life and to prevent leakage to the groundwater of essential plant nutrients. Carbon in soils can be stabilized in roughly two ways: binding to the organo-mineral fraction (mineral associated organic matter MAOM) and physical protected organic matter locked in soil aggregates (particulate organic matter POM). The fraction of carbon that can be bound to minerals depends on the type of mineral surface, surface charge, soil type, pH etc. This can be targeted by proper management of the land. The physical protected fraction can be large and has a great potential for optimization (Cotrufo et al. 2019). However, many fundamental information is lacking ion how to increase the stable POM-fraction.

    Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) (sensu Probandt et al 2017) on auto-fluorescent samples (no preparation needed) running time-lapses for one to two months in a row (sensu Morris et al. 2019). I already analysed some of the soils we want to include and there is plenty of auto-fluorencence of organic material in the sample. The combination of molecular analysis of stable POM material inside the aggregates, relating to the reflectance patterns will allow us to count these particles in small volumes. In that way we can also quantify the effect of certain management practices on particular organic carbon sources. we will unravel the macromolecular composition of the organic matter using pyrolysis-GC/MS (Nierop & Jansen 2009). time I can unravel which molecular composition of organic matter is emitting auto-fluoresence at which wavelengths and count it in small volumes with the CLSM. I can then see whether this can also be used for field estimations.

    Masterproject 3: measuring ‘sticky substances’ EPS/GRSP from microbes that form aggregates

    Supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Shixiu Zhang from April 2020

    Carbon stabilization in soils is of essential importance for agricultural practices, a healthy soil life and to prevent leakage to the groundwater of essential plant nutrients. Carbon in soils can be stabilized in roughly two ways: binding to the organo-mineral fraction (mineral associated organic matter MAOM) and physical protected organic matter locked in soil aggregates (particulate organic matter POM). The fraction of carbon that can be bound to minerals depends on the type of mineral surface, surface charge, soil type, pH etc. This can be targeted by proper management of the land. The physical protected fraction can be large and has a great potential for optimization (Cotrufo et al. 2019). However, many fundamental information is lacking ion how to increase the stable POM-fraction. We have for example little information on the stability, turnover and dynamics of soil aggregates. It seems that microaggregates are more stable robust entities which form the building blocks for larger macro-aggregates (Totsche et al. 2018).

    Aggregates are lumps of soil particles, microbes and organic matter (Lehmann et al. 2017). These lumps stick together due to the root exudates, which predominantly consist of polysaccharides (Baumert et al. 2018). This triggers microbes to secrete enzymes and other Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS) that act as some sort of glue. Also hyphal fungi release substances which are generally known as glomalin which seem to perform a similar sort of gluing function, but are more recently carefully renamed in Glomalin Related Soil Proteins (GRSPs) (Fokom et al. 2012). I want to compare EPS and GRSP production under different agricultural land use.

     

    Bachelor projects:

    Straw-rich manure application to croplands to improve soil biodiversity, increase pathogen suppression and increase soil organic carbon stocks

    A farmers cooperation in Holwerd, Ecolana, and a farmer in Hem (NH), Wim Reus both farming on sea clay provide opportunities to create a living lab on their fields. Amsterdam Green Campus together with van Hall Larenstein, Leeuwarden (University of Applied Sciences) wrote a proposal which is submitted to the province of Groningen, Friesland and Noord-Holland to get 4 years of funding for continuous measurements on soil quality, biodiversity, water quality, emissions and meadow bird monitoring. We want to assess the effect of closing nutrient-cycles by using manure produced by local farms, mix it with crop residues and apply it as solid manure on cropland of local farmers. These farmers grow potato’s, cauliflower, onions and beetroot. Applying solid manure with crop residues/wheat-straw, has the advantage of emitting less ammonium, increase soil carbon stocks and improve crop health and -nutrition. The results of this test on clay soils will provide the first input for management guidelines to reduce nitrogen emissions, increase soil carbon, increase above- and belowground biodiversity and increase the quality and quantity of the harvest on clay soils. Closing nutrient cycles, nature inclusive soil management and reducing the use of artificial fertilizers are the way forward in future agriculture.

    We seek highly motivated bachelor student(s) who can, from March – June 2021 perform start measurements from the current situation before the treatments are applied. This can be done in location Hem only, or expanded towards the locations in the north of Friesland. The student will collect soil samples from fields at the start of the growing season and measure total microbial biomass (fumigation extraction), ergosterol (fungal biomass only), perform basic microbial soil functions with Ecoplates to examine potential breakdown of 31 carbohydrates (earth sciences FPS bachelor/biology FPS bachelor). Also soil nematodes can be included in the trial. Nematodes can be identified based on mouthpart morphology, which indicates whether they are plant parasites, fungal feeders, bacterial feeders or carnivorous predators. This will indicate the presence of crop pests. In specific cases we could monitor numbers of a specific crop pathogen (fungus/virus/bacterial crop infection) over the growing season (biology FPS bachelor). We can also place a student that monitors aggregate stability for the different treatments or optimizes measurements for aggregate stability by trying out different methods and comparing results, f.e. compare wet sieving methods with FTIR spectroscopy measurements (earth sciences FPS bachelor), as well as a student that monitors different forms of carbon in the treatments. Total carbon, mineral associated carbon (MAOM), particulate organic carbon (POM) and permanganate oxidizable carbon (POXC) (this last fraction is very sensitive to soil management) (earth sciences FPS bachelor).

    The following cropland management will be tested:

    • Application of manure slurry (mix of manure and urine) versus straw-rich manure
    • Injecting manure versus application on soil surface
    • Apply straw-rich manure in autumn (September) versus application in spring (February/March) preceding sowing of beetroot

     

    Project 1: soil microbes (FPS earth sciences or biology). Daily supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Franciska de Vries

    Project 2: soil nematodes/crop pests (FPS biology). Daily supervisor: Shixiu Zhang, examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Albert Tietema

    Project 3: aggregate stability. Daily supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Erik Cammeraat.

    Project 4: Soil carbon. Daily supervisor/examiner: Elly Morriën, second assessor: Boris Jansen

  • Publications

    2020

    2019

    2018

    2017

    2016

    2013

    • Bardgett, R. D., Manning, P., Morriën, E., & de Vries, F. T. (2013). Hierarchical responses of plant soil interactions to climate change: consequences for the global carbon cycle. Journal of Ecology, 101(2), 334-343. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12043
    • Morriën, E., & van der Putten, W. H. (2013). Soil microbial community structure of range expanding plant species differ from co-occurring natives. Journal of Ecology, 101(5), 1093-1102. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12117

    2012

    • Morriën, W. E., Duyts, H., & van der Putten, W. H. (2012). Effects of native and exotic range-expanding plant species on taxonomic and functional composition of nematodes in the soil food web. Oikos, 121(2), 181-190. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19773.x

    2011

    • Morriën, E., Engelkes, T., & van der Putten, W. H. (2011). Additive effects of aboveground polyphagous herbivores and soil feedback in native and range-expanding exotic plants. Ecology, 92(6), 1344-1352. https://doi.org/10.1890/10-1937.1

    2010

    • Harvey, J. A., Biere, A., Fortuna, T., Vet, L. E. M., Engelkes, T., Morriën, E., ... van der Putten, W. H. (2010). Ecological fits, mis-fits and lotteries involving insect herbivores on the invasive plant, Bunias orientalis. Biological Invasions, 12(9), 3045-3059. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-010-9696-9
    • Morriën, E., Engelkes, T., Macel, M., Meisner, A., & van der Putten, W. H. (2010). Climate change and invasion by intracontinental range-expanding exotic plants: the role of biotic interactions. Annals of Botany, 105(6), 843-848. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq064

    2008

    • Engelkes, T., Morriën, W. E., Verhoeven, K. J. F., Bezemer, T. M., Biere, A., Harvey, J. A., ... van der Putten, W. H. (2008). Successful range-expanding plantsexperience less above-ground and below-ground enemy impact. Nature, 456, 946-948. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07474
    • Gripenberg, S., Ovaskainen, O., Morriën, E., & Roslin, T. (2008). Spatial population structure of a specialist leaf-mining moth. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77(4), 757-767. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01396.x
    • Zorn, M. I., van Gestel, C. A. M., Morriën, W. E., Wagenaar, M., & Eijsackers, H. (2008). Flooding responses of three earthworm species Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Lumbricus rubellus in a laboratory-controlled environment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 40(3), 587-593. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2007.06.028

    2018

    Membership

    • Morriën, E. (2016-2019). Member of the Education board for the Bachelor Future Planet Studies at University of Amsterdam (OC-FPS), Education board for the Bachelor Future Planet Studies at University of Amsterdam (OC-FPS).

    Media appearance

    Journal editor

    • Morriën, E. (member of editorial board) (2017-2020). Functional Ecology (Journal).

    Talk / presentation

    • Morriën, E. (invited speaker), Hannula, S. E. (speaker), Snoek, L. B. (speaker), van Veen, J. A. (speaker), de Ruiter, P. C. (speaker) & van der Putten, W. H. (speaker) (24-11-2016). Soil networks in transition: from abandoned agricultural fields to species-rich grasslands, Current themes in Ecology, Lunteren.

    Others

    • Morriën, E. (examiner) (25-6-2020). How functional trait diversity, invertebrates and time interactively drive variation in tree litter decomposition rates (examination).
    • Morriën, E. (examiner) (15-5-2019). Feeling the heat: Species interactions and community responses to extreme climatic events (examination).
    • Morriën, E. (chair) (12-2-2019). Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2019, Lunteren. Carbon and nutrient dynamics (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Morriën, E. (examiner) (29-10-2018). Diversity relations of plants and soil microbes (examination).
    • Morriën, E. (chair) (13-2-2018). Netherlands Ecological Research Network 2018, Lunteren. Co-organizer of "Functional networks in ecology" session (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Morriën, E. (examiner) (21-6-2017). What lies beneath? Linking litter and canopy food webs to protect ornamental crops (examination).
    • Morriën, E. (chair) (15-2-2017). Netherlands Ecological Research Network meeting 2017, Lunteren. Co-organizer of "Serendipity" session (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Morriën, E. (examiner) (8-6-2016). Arriving at the right time: A temporal perspective on above-belowground herbivore interactions (examination).

    2011

    • Morriën, W. E. (2011). Climate induced range-expanding plants: above- and belowground interactions.
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • No ancillary activities
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