Plant-insect-microbe interactions group

The Tack Lab


Plants, microbes and insects
Plant-based species interactions

This lab revolves around plant-based species interactions. Our key aim is to use experimental, theoretical and molecular techniques to study interkingdom interactions between plants, microbes and insects. For this, we will initially focus on two familiar study systems: the below- and aboveground food web surrounding the plant Plantago lanceolata, and the pathogen and insect metacommunity on the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur). In the coming years we hope to explore new study systems, like the smut fungus on the evening primrose (Primula farinosa) and the microbial community associated with Sweden’s wild plants. Overall, we are broadly interested how ecological and evolutionary interactions between plants, insects and microbes play out in a spatial setting.

Team members

Ayco Tack

Principal investigator

Ayco Tack

Pil Rasmussen

PhD student

Pil Rasmussen

Maria Faticov

PhD student


Beyene Zewdie

PhD student (co-supervisor)

Beyene Zewdie

Laura van Dijk

PhD student

Laura van Dijk

Etsuko Nonaka

Postdoctoral researcher

Adam Ekholm

PhD student (co-supervisor)

Adam Ekholm

Niklas Wickander

Master student

Niklas Wickander

Anna Barr

Master student

Anna Barr

Abebe Woldesenbet

Master student (co-supervisor)

Abebe Woldesenbet


(or at least some irregular updates)

Highlights from spring 2017

(top) Maria Faticov and Adam Ekholm are heating the oak food web to study the impact of climate on phenology, microbes & insects. (bottom-left) Laura van Dijk’s new project on the spatial dynamics of systemic diseases in the wood anemone. (bottom-right) The impact of overwintering temperature on the spring phenology of insects on oak: waiting for thousands of leaf miners, gallers and their parasitoids to emerge.

Highlights from spring & summer 2016

Compilation King & Coffee
(top) Meeting
the Swedish King at the Royal Palace. I received a grant for höstförsöket (our new citizen science project) where we will collaborate with school children across Sweden to disentangle the relationship between climate, phenology and the oak food web. (bottom) A sprouting coffee bean in Goma forest, where we launched our new SIDA-funded project on coffee pests and pathogens in SW Ethiopia.

Other major & minor events:

Highlights from autumn & winter 2015

Fieldwork by Pil Rasmussen – spring and summer 2015

Spring and summer 2015_Pil Rasmussen

(top) Setting up a PlantPopNet population in the beautiful surrounding of Östra Ryd (North of Stockholm). (bottom-left) Looking at the vegetation and soil community associated with Plantago lanceolata in Åland, Finland, and comparing it to a study done 6 years ago by Stafva Lindström and Anna-Liisa Laine from Helsinki University. (bottom-right) Genetic analyses of the arbuscular mycorrhizal community in collaboration with Anders Andersson, Luisa Hugerth and Björn Lindahl at SciLifeLab.

Mesocosm experiment by Pil Rasmussen

Using swimming pools to detect the impact of dispersal limitation and plant genotype on the belowground community in a lovely experiment run by Pil Rasmussen at the James Hutton Institute:


Highlights from spring 2014

A bi-yearly update on cool stuff!

  • Pil Rasmussen started her first PhD experiment at the James Hutton Institute (Scotland) in collaboration with Alison Bennett and Roy Neilson
  • A grant from the Societas Entomologica Helsingforsiensis to study the role of Symbionts within Food Webs (Advertisement for master project)
  • A keynote talk at the Danish OIKOS meeting (Odense, Denmark)
  • A talk at the Plant Frontiers seminar series of the Linnean Centre in Uppsala, Sweden (thanks to Johan Stenberg for hosting me!)
  • First publication in one of the glossies, which was covered in several media:
  • Perspective in Science by Meghan Duffy
    The Scientist

    Move to Stockholm!

    Our lab recently moved to Stockholm, where I (Ayco) will start as an assistant professor (‘biträdende lektor’). The position revolves around ‘Plant-based species interactions‘.

    The new visiting address is:
    Svante Arrheniusväg 20A
    114 18 Stockholm

    Postal address:
    Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
    Stockholm University
    SE-106 91 Stockholm

    And my personal webpage at the department

    Hello world!

    Launch of the website! (some updates and new links may come soon)

    Here a link to the university website including many facts & CV:


    (click the text below the figure for an external link)


    Peer-reviewed publications

    Rasmussen, P.U., L. Hugerth, A. Andersson, B. Lindahl and A. J. M. Tack. Multi-scale patterns and drivers of AM fungal communities in the roots and root-associated soil of a wild perennial herb. In review.

    Blanchet, F. G., T. Roslin, M. T. Kimura, R. Kaartinen, S. Gripenberg and A. J. M. Tack. Related herbivore species show similar temporal dynamics. In revision.

    Signoret, C., E. Ng, S. da Silva, A. J. M. Tack, H. H. Lidö, and C. Balachandran. Well-being of early-career scientists in Sweden. In revision.

    Abrego, N., T. Huotari, A. J. M. Tack, B. Lindahl, G. Tikhonov, P. Somervuo, N. M. Schmidt, O. Ovaskainen & T. Roslin. Changes in biotic interactions determine hump-shaped species richness patterns of root-associated fungi. In revision.

    Castagneyrol, B., P. Fernandez-Conradi, P. U. Rasmussen, C. Robin and A. J. M. Tack Belowground-aboveground interactions between pathogens and herbivores. Invited book chapter for the book Aboveground-Belowground Community Ecology. Eds. Ohgushi, T., S. Wurst and S. N. Johnson. Scheduled to appear in press in 2018.

    Fernandez-Conradi, P., H. Jactel, C. Robin, A. J. M. Tack and B. Castagneyrol. Fungi reduce preference and performance of insect herbivores on infected plants. In revision.

    Moreira, X., B. Castagneyrol, L. Abdala-Roberts, J. C. Berny-Mier y Terán, B. G. H. Timmermans, H. H. Bruun, F. Covelo, G. Glauser, S. Rasmann and A. J. M. Tack. Latitudinal variation in plant chemical defences drives correlates with latitudinal patterns of insect leaf herbivory in a widespread oak species. In press.

    Ekholm, A., T. Roslin, P. Pulkkinen and A. J. M. Tack. 2017. Dispersal, host genotype and environment shape the spatial dynamics of a parasite in the wild. Ecology. PDF

    Rasmussen, P. U, T. Amin, A. E. Bennett, K. Karlsson Green, S. Timonen, S. van Nouhuys and A. J. M. Tack. 2017. Plant and insect genetic variation mediate the impact of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on a natural plant-herbivore interaction. Ecological Entomology. PDF

    Mursinoff, S. and A. J. M. Tack. 2017. Spatial variation in soil biota mediates plant adaptation to a foliar pathogen. New Phytologist 214: 644–654. PDF

    Zheng, Z., O. Ovaskainen, T. Roslin and A. J. M. Tack. 2015. Beyond metacommunities paradigms: habitat configuration, life-history and movement shape an herbivore community on oak. Ecology 96: 3175–3185. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., T. Mononen and I. Hanski. 2015. Increasing frequency of low summer precipitation synchronizes dynamics and compromises metapopulation stability in the Glanville fritillary butterfly. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20150173. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., A.-L. Laine, J. J. Burdon, A. Bissett and P. H. Thrall. 2015. Below-ground abiotic and biotic heterogeneity shapes above-ground infection outcomes and spatial divergence in a host–parasite interaction. New Phytologist 207: 1159–1169. PDF

    Pohjanmies, T., A. J. M. Tack, P. Pulkkinen, S. Elshibli, P. Vakkari and T. Roslin. 2015. Genetic diversity and connectivity shape herbivore load within an oak population at its range limit. Ecosphere 6: 101. PDF

    Tollenaere, C. T., B. Pernechele, H. S. Mäkinen, S. R. Parratt, M. Z. Németh, G. M. Kovács, L. Kiss, A. J. M. Tack and A.-L. Laine. 2014. A hyperparasite affects the population dynamics of a wild plant pathogen. Molecular Ecology 23: 5877-5887. PDF

    Jousimo, J.*, A. J. M. Tack*, Ovaskainen, O., Mononen, T., Susi, H., Tollenaere, C. and A.-L. Laine. 2014. Ecological and evolutionary effects of fragmentation on infectious disease dynamics. Science 344: 1289-1293. PDF
    (* Shared first authorship)

    Tack, A. J. M. and A.-L. Laine. 2014. Invited review: Spatial eco-evolutionary feedback in plant-pathogen interactions. European Journal of Plant Patholology 138: 667-677. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M. and A.-L. Laine. 2014. Ecological and evolutionary implications of spatial heterogeneity during the off-season for a wild parasite. New Phytologist 202: 297-308. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., J. Hakala, T. Petäjä, M. Kulmala, and A.-L. Laine. 2014. Genotype and spatial structure shape pathogen dispersal and disease dynamics at small spatial scales. Ecology 95: 703-714. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., F. Horns, and A.-L. Laine. 2014. The impact of spatial scale and habitat configuration on patterns of trait variation and local adaptation in a wild plant parasite. Evolution 68: 176-189. PDF

    Biere, A. and A. J. M. Tack. 2013. Evolutionary adaptation in three-way interactions between plants, microbes and arthropods. Functional Ecology 27: 646-660. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M. and M. Dicke. 2013. Plant pathogens structure arthropod communities across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Functional Ecology 27: 633-645. PDF

    Tollenaere, C., H. Susi, J. Nokso-Koivisto, P. Koskinen, A. Tack, P. Auvinen, L. Paulin, M. J. Frilander, R. Lehtonen, and A.-L. Laine. 2012. SNP design from 454 sequencing of Podosphaera plantaginis transcriptome reveals a genetically diverse pathogen metapopulation with high levels of mixed-genotype infection. PLoS ONE 7: e52492. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., S. Gripenberg, and T. Roslin. 2012. Cross-kingdom interactions matter: fungal-mediated interactions structure an insect community on oak. Ecology Letters 15: 177-185. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., S. Gripenberg, and T. Roslin. 2012. Can we predict indirect interactions from quantitative food webs? – an experimental approach. Journal of Animal Ecology 80: 108-118. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., M. T. J. Johnson, and T. Roslin. 2012. Sizing up community genetics: it’s a matter of scale. Oikos 121: 481-488. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., P. H. Thrall, L. G. Barrett, J. J. Burdon, and A.-L. Laine. 2012. Variation in infectivity and aggressiveness in space and time in wild host–pathogen systems: causes and consequences. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25: 1918-1936. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M. and T. Roslin. 2011. The relative importance of host-plant genetic diversity in structuring the associated herbivore community. Ecology 92: 1594-1604. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M. 2010. Photo Gallery: Adaptation of insects to invididual trees. Bulletin of the Ecological Society 91: 335-338. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., O. Ovaskainen, P. Pulkkinen, and T. Roslin. 2010. Spatial location dominates over host plant genotype in structuring an herbivore community. Ecology 91: 2660-2672. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M. and T. Roslin. 2010. Overrun by the neighbors: Landscape context affects strength and sign of local adaptation. Ecology 91: 2253-2260. PDF

    Tack, A. J. M., O. Ovaskainen, P. J. Harrison, and T. Roslin. 2009. Competition as a structuring force in leaf miner communities. Oikos 118: 809-818. PDF

    E. J. Slaa, A. J. M. Tack & M. J. Sommeijer. 2003. The effect of intrinsic and extrinsic factors on flower constancy in stingless bees. Apidologie 34: 457-468. PDF


    Ayco Tack
    Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences
    University of Stockholm

    University webpage (more facts and a CV)