Prof. Dr. Mika Tarkka

Contact / Address

Prof. Dr. Mika Tarkka
Head of the department

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


+49 345 5585 221
+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 maize, barley and pedunculate oak, and our models of biotic interactions include rhizosphere bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi and pathogens. Our current work assesses the physiology and molecular interactions from both the host plant’s and the interacting organisms’ 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 Plant Microbe Interactions at the 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.


  • "Spatial and temporal analysis of maize root gene expression to elucidate how the maize interacts with the rhizosphere microbiome and the environment"
    Web: GEPRIS

    Subproject of SPP 2089: Rhizosphere Spatiotemporal Organisation - a Key to Rhizosphere Functions
    Web: SPP 2089

    PhD student: Henrike Würsig, 2022-2025
    Co-Investigator: Prof. Anna Heintz-Buschart (University of Amsterdam, UVA)

  • "A drought tolerant synthetic bacterial community for barley"
    Web: GEPRIS

    Subproject of SPP 2125: Deconstruction and Reconstruction of the Plant Microbiota "DECRyPT"
    Web: SPP 2125

    PhD student: Linda Rigerte, 2022-2025
    Co-Investigators: Prof. Anna Heintz-Buschart (University of Amsterdam, UVA),
                                Dr. Thomas Reitz

Research platforms


The PhytOakmeter platform was created by planting pedunculate oak DF159 trees along a geographic gradient in Europe. It used to investigate the adaptation of the oak trees and the associated organisms to different climates, soils, and land use types.

Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF)

The GCEF is a field experiment at the UFZ research station Bad Lauchstädt, used for the investigation of the impacts of climate change and land use scenarios on ecosystem processes.

Selected publications

Ganther, M., Lippold, E., Bienert, M.D., Bouffaud, M.-L., Bauer, M., Baumann, L., Bienert, G.P., Vetterlein, D.,    Heintz-Buschart, A., Tarkka, M.T. (2022) Plant Age and Soil Texture Rather Than the Presence of Root Hairs Cause Differences in Maize Resource Allocation and Root Gene Expression in the Field. Plants 11, 2883

Tarkka, M.T., Grams, T.E.E., Angay, O., Kurth, F., Maboreke, H.R., Mailänder, S., Bönn, M., Feldhahn, L., Fleischmann, F., Ruess, L., Schädler, M., Scheu, S., Schrey, S.D., Buscot, F., Herrmann, S. (2021) Ectomycorrhizal fungus supports endogenous rhythmic growth and corresponding resource allocation in oak during various below- and aboveground biotic interactions. Scientific Reports 11, 23680

Breitkreuz, C., Herzig, L., Buscot, F., Reitz, T., Tarkka, M. (2021) Interactions between soil properties, agricultural management and cultivar type drive structural and functional adaptations of the wheat rhizosphere microbiome to drought. Environmental Microbiology 23, 5866-5882 

Complete lists of publications


Weiterführende Recherchen können Sie in unserem Publikationsverzeichnis durchführen.


Akzeptiert / im Druck (1)

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Artikel in ISI-gelisteten Zeitschriften (68)

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Artikel in anderen Zeitschriften (nicht ISI gelistet) (5)

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Buchkapitel (4)

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Berichte (1)

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Tagungsbeiträge (1)

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Peer-reviewed publications

Riedlinger J., Schrey S.D., Tarkka M.T., Hampp R., Kapur M., Fiedler H.P. (2006)
Auxofuran, a novel substance stimulating growth of fly agaric, produced by the mycorrhiza helper bacterium Streptomyces AcH 505.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72, 3550-3557. download

Tarkka M.T., Schrey S., Nehls U . (2006)
The alpha-tubulin gene AmTuba1: A marker for rapid mycelial growth in the ectomycorrhizal basidiomycete Amanita muscaria.
Current Genetics 49, 294-301. download

Schrey S.D., Schellhammer M., Ecke M., Hampp R., Tarkka M.T. (2005)
Mycorrhization helper bacterium Streptomyces AcH 505 induces differential gene expression in the ectomycorrhizal fungus Amanita muscaria.
New Phytologist 168, 205-216. download

Juuti J.T., Jokela S., Tarkka M.T., Paulin L., Lahdensalo J. (2005)
Two phylogenetically highly distinct beta-tubulin genes of the basidiomycete Suillus bovinus.
Current Genetics 47, 253-263.

Saarma K., Tarkka M.T., Itavaara M., Fagerstedt K.V. (2003)
Heat shock protein synthesis is induced by diethyl phthalate but not by di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in radish (Raphanus sativus).
Journal of Plant Physiology 160, 1001-1010.

Gorfer M., Tarkka M.T., Hanif M., Pardo A.G., Laitiainen E., Raudaskoski M. (2001)
Characterization of small GTPases Cdc42 and Rac and the relationship between Cdc42 and actin cytoskeleton in vegetative and ectomycorrhizal hyphae of Suillus bovinus.
Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 14, 135-144.

Tarkka M.T., Nyman T.A., Kalkkinen N., Raudaskoski M. (2001)
Scots pine expresses short root-specific peroxidases during development.
European Journal of Biochemistry 268, 86-92.

Tarkka M.T., Vasara R., Gorfer M., Raudaskoski M. (2000)
Molecular characterization of actin genes from homobasidiomycetes: two different actin genes from Schizophyllum commune and Suillus bovinus.
Gene 251, 27-35.

Tarkka M., Niini S.S., Raudaskoski M. (1998)
Developmentally regulated proteins during differentiation of root system and ectomycorrhiza in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) with Suillus bovinus.
Physiologia Plantarum 104, 449-455.

Niini S.S., Tarkka M.T., Raudaskoski M. (1996)
Tubulin and actin protein patterns in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) roots and developing ectomycorrhiza with Suillus bovinus.
Physiologia Plantarum 96, 186-192.

Book Chapters

Nehls U., Zhang C., Tarkka M., Hampp R., Fladung M. (2006)
Investigation of horizontal gene transfer from transgenic aspen to ectomycorrhizal fungi.
In: Recent developments in tree transgenesis, Fladung M, Ewald D (eds), pp 323-333. Springer-Verlag

Tarkka M.T., Nehls U., Hampp R. (2005)
Physiology of Ectomycorrhiza (ECM).
Progress in Botany 66, 220-247.

Raudaskoski M., Tarkka M.T., Niini S.S. (2004)
Mycorrhizal development and cytoskeleton.
In: Plant Surface Microbiology, pp. 293-330. Springer-Verlag.

Raudaskoski M., Pardo A., Tarkka M., et al. (2001)
Small GTPases, cytoskeleton and signal transduction in filamentous homobasidiomycetes.
NATO Science Series I: 328, 123-136