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PhD Maarja Öpik

Professor in molecular ecology, head of the molecular ecology working group
Maarja.Opik [ at ] 

J. Liivi st. 2- 617

The main focus of my research has been the molecular detection and identification of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi (subphylum Glomeromycotina). I have been at the forefront of molecular AM fungal research by developing DNA sequence-based nomenclatural system for Glomeromycotina with the goal to link the specimen (culture-) originating and environmental sequence information. This system of virtual taxa (VT) is implemented in the database MaarjAM, which collates published information about Glomeromycota sequences and related metadata (location, host, habitat information). Our team continues developing the system, as the data volumes and types continuously progress.

With the Virtual Taxon tool in our hands and accumulating ecological content of MaarjAM database, we look into the lives of AM fungi in natural and (strongly) human impacted habitats, in interaction with other micro-and macro-organisms and in relation to the functioning of the ecosystems.

On the applied side, we are exploring how to make use of AM fungi and soil biota for restoring vegetation, for directing succession of vegetation and in sustainable agricultural production. Much of this research happens in collaboration with our research partners and partners in the field.


I contribute as academic editor for the journals New Phytologist, Fungal Ecology, IMA Fungus and Plant and Soil.

Current projects:

Centre of Excellence EcolChange

PRIA-funded innovation cluster MTÜ Põllukultuuride klaster

Biodiversa 3 project SoilMan (Ecosystem services driven by the diversity of soil biota – understanding and management)

My full CV and publication list are available at the Estonian Research Information System.

I am currently supervising or co-supervising PhD students Tanel Vahter, Siqiao Liu and Yiming Meng.

Selected publications: