Honors & Awards

  • Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (2014)
  • Graduate Opportunities Worldwide (GROW); Brazil, National Science Foundation (2017)

Professional Education

  • B.A., Occidental College, Biology (2012)
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (2019)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Keep your friends close: Host compartmentalisation of microbial communities facilitates decoupling from effects of habitat fragmentation. Ecology letters Willing, C. E., Pierroz, G., Guzman, A., Anderegg, L. D., Gao, C., Coleman-Derr, D., Taylor, J. W., Bruns, T. D., Dawson, T. E. 2021


    Root-associated fungal communities modify the climatic niches and even the competitive ability of their hosts, yet how the different components of the root microbiome are modified by habitat loss remains a key knowledge gap. Using principles of landscape ecology, we tested how free-living versus host-associated microbes differ in their response to landscape heterogeneity. Further, we explore how compartmentalisation of microbes into specialised root structures filters for key fungal symbionts. Our study demonstrates that free-living fungal community structure correlates with landscape heterogeneity, but that host-associated fungal communities depart from these patterns. Specifically, biotic filtering in roots, especially via compartmentalisation within specialised root structures, decouples the biogeographic patterns of host-associated fungal communities from the soil community. In this way, even as habitat loss and fragmentation threaten fungal diversity in the soils, plant hosts exert biotic controls to ensure associations with critical mutualists, helping to preserve the root mycobiome.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ele.13886

    View details for PubMedID 34523223

  • Author Correction: Nonlinear shifts in infectious rust disease due to climate change. Nature communications Dudney, J., Willing, C. E., Das, A. J., Latimer, A. M., Nesmith, J. C., Battles, J. J. 2021; 12 (1): 5326

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-25692-3

    View details for PubMedID 34475385

  • Nonlinear shifts in infectious rust disease due to climate change. Nature communications Dudney, J., Willing, C. E., Das, A. J., Latimer, A. M., Nesmith, J. C., Battles, J. J. 2021; 12 (1): 5102


    Range shifts of infectious plant disease are expected under climate change. As plant diseases move, emergent abiotic-biotic interactions are predicted to modify their distributions, leading to unexpected changes in disease risk. Evidence of these complex range shifts due to climate change, however, remains largely speculative. Here, we combine a long-term study of the infectious tree disease, white pine blister rust, with a six-year field assessment of drought-disease interactions in the southern Sierra Nevada. We find that climate change between 1996 and 2016 moved the climate optimum of the disease into higher elevations. The nonlinear climate change-disease relationship contributed to an estimated 5.5 (4.4-6.6) percentage points (p.p.) decline in disease prevalence in arid regions and an estimated 6.8 (5.8-7.9) p.p. increase in colder regions. Though climate change likely expanded the suitable area for blister rust by 777.9 (1.0-1392.9) km2 into previously inhospitable regions, the combination of host-pathogen and drought-disease interactions contributed to a substantial decrease (32.79%) in mean diseaseprevalence between surveys. Specifically, declining alternate host abundance suppressed infection probabilities at high elevations, even as climatic conditions became more suitable. Further, drought-disease interactions varied in strength and direction across an aridity gradient-likely decreasing infection risk at low elevations while simultaneously increasing infection risk at high elevations. These results highlight the critical role of aridity in modifying host-pathogen-drought interactions. Variation in aridity across topographic gradients can strongly mediate plant disease range shifts in response to climate change.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-25182-6

    View details for PubMedID 34429405

  • The generalizability of water-deficit on bacterial community composition; Site-specific water-availability predicts the bacterial community associated with coast redwood roots MOLECULAR ECOLOGY Willing, C. E., Pierroz, G., Coleman-Derr, D., Dawson, T. E. 2020


    Experimental drought has been shown to delay the development of the root microbiome and increase the relative abundance of Actinobacteria, however, the generalizability of these findings to natural systems or other diverse plant hosts remains unknown. Bacterial cell wall thickness and growth morphology (e.g., filamentous or unicellular) have been proposed as traits that may mediate bacterial responses to environmental drivers. Leveraging a natural gradient of water-availability across the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) range, we tested three hypotheses: (a) that site-specific water-availability is an important predictor of bacterial community composition for redwood roots and rhizosphere soils; (b) that there is relative enrichment of Actinobacteria and other monoderm bacterial groups within the redwood microbiome in response to drier conditions; and (c) that bacterial growth morphology is an important predictor of bacteria response to water-availability, where filamentous taxa will become more dominant at drier sites compared to unicellular bacteria. We find that both α- and β-diversity of redwood bacterial communities is partially explained by water-availability and that Actinobacterial enrichment is a conserved response of land plants to water-deficit. Further, we highlight how the trend of Actinobacterial enrichment in the redwood system is largely driven by the Actinomycetales. We propose bacterial growth morphology (filamentous vs. unicellular) as an additional mechanism behind the increase in Actinomycetales with increasing aridity. A trait-based approach including cell-wall thickness and growth morphology may explain the distribution of bacterial taxa across environmental gradients and help to predict patterns of bacterial community composition for a wide range of host plants.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/mec.15666

    View details for Web of Science ID 000583198200001

    View details for PubMedID 33000868