PD Dr. Mika Tarkka

Contact / Address

PD Dr. Mika Tarkka
Senior Scientist

Department of Soil Ecology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4 | D-06120 Halle/Saale


+49 345 5585 414
+49 345 5585 449

Mika Tarkka

Research interest

Plant beneficial micro-organisms

My scientific work is devoted to answering the question how soil microorganisms affect plant growth and stress resistance, and whether these interactions can be used to benefit plant health. In particular, my colleagues and I work with micro-organisms associated with pedunculate oak, and our models of biotic interactions include streptomycetes, fungal mutualists and pathogens. Our current work on ectomycorrhizal symbiosis assesses the physiology and molecular interactions from both the host plant’s and the symbiotic fungus’ point of view. While much of the current work focusses on genome regulation, my colleagues and I have also performed analyses on soil bacterial communities influencing plant and fungal resistance against parasites, and playing out in decomposition and nutrient mobilisation. My main motivation in this research field is to contribute to the assessment of the overall impact of microorganisms on plant health, and to assess the existing uses of microbes for improved plant production. Overall, I believe that combination of model systems with field work pave the way for a novel, more dynamic view on plant-microbe interactions.

Current position

since 2007

Senior Scientist in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Department of Soil Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

Curriculum Vitae


Research Associate at the University of Tübingen, Dept. of Physiological Ecology of Plants.
Projects: Modulation of fungal virulence and symbiosis with soil bacteria (with R. Hampp).
Horizontal gene transfer in ectomycorrhiza and Biological safety of transgenic poplars overproducing glutathione (with U. Nehls)


Ph. D. thesis: Developmentally regulated proteins in Scots pine roots and ectomycorrhiza. Supervisor: Marjatta Raudaskoski


M. Sc. Major subject plant physiology, minor subjects biochemistry and general chemistry.


Recent Publications

Caravaca, F., Maboreke, H., Kurth, F., Herrmann, S., Tarkka, M.T., Ruess, L. (2015) Synergists and antagonists in the rhizosphere modulate microbial communities and growth of Quercus robur L.
Soil Biology and Biochemistry 82, 65-73 DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.12.004

Herrmann, S., Recht, S., Boenn, M., Feldhahn, L., Angay, O., Fleischmann, F., Tarkka, M. T., Grams, T. E. E., Buscot, F. (2015) Endogenous rhythmic growth in oak trees is regulated by internal clocks rather than resource availability.
Journal of Experimental Botany DOI:10.1093/jxb/erv408

Kohler, A., Kuo, A., Nagy, L.G., Morin, E., Barry, K.W., Buscot, F., Canbäck, B., Choi, C., Cichocki, N., Clum, A., et al. (2015) Convergent losses of decay mechanisms and rapid turnover of symbiosis genes in mycorrhizal mutualists.
Nature Genetics DOI:10.1038/ng.3223

Kurth, F., Feldhahn, L., Bönn, M., Herrmann, S., Buscot, F., Tarkka M. T. (2015) Large scale transcriptome analysis reveals interplay between development of forest trees and a beneficial mycorrhiza helper bacterium.
BMC Genomics 16, 658. DOI:10.1186/s12864-015-1856-y

Lesur, I., Le Provost, G., Bento, P., Da Silva, C., Leplé, J-C., Murat, F., Ueno, S., Bartholomé, J., Lalanne, C., Ehrenmann, F., et al. (2015) The oak gene expression atlas: insights into Fagaceae genome evolution and the discovery of genes regulated during bud dormancy release
BMC Genomics 16, 112. DOI:10.1186/s12864-015-1331-9

Tarkka, M.T., Feldhahn, L., Buscot, F., Wubet, T. (2015) Genome sequence of the Mycorrhiza Helper Bacterium Streptomyces sp. strain AcH 505.
Genome Announcements 3, e01386-14 DOI:10.1128/genomeA.01386-14

Tarkka, M.T., Feldhahn, L., Krüger, D., Arnold, N., Buscot, F., Wubet, T. (2015) Draft genome sequence of Streptomyces sp. strain 150FB, a mushroom mycoparasite antagonist.
Genome Announcements 3, e01441-14 DOI:10.1128/genomeA.01441-14

Review articles

Frey-Klett, P., Burlinson, P., Deveau, A., Barret, M., Tarkka, M.T., Sarniguet, A. (2011)
Bacterial-fungal interactions: hyphens between agricultural, clinical, environmental, and food microbiologists
Microbiology Molecular Biology Reviews 75, 583-609. DOI:10.1128/MMBR.00020-11

Schrey S.D., Tarkka M.T. (2008)
Friends and foes: streptomycetes as modulators of plant disease and symbiosis.
Antonie van Leeuvenhoek 49, 11-19. DOI:10.1007/s10482-008-9241-3

Frey-Klett P., Garbaye J., Tarkka M.T. (2007)
The mycorrhiza helper bacteria revisited.
New Phytologist 176, 22-36. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2007.02191.x