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Associate Professor Mona N. Högberg

My soil microbiology research is field based and interdisciplinary and performed in collaboration with foresters, plant physiologists, and soil scientists. It includes the study of interactions among soil, microorganisms, and plants in boreal forest ecosystems where soil nitrogen supply commonly limits plants growth and is a strong determinant of plant and soil microbial community composition. The main focus is on the soil microorganisms, including mycorrhizal fungi, their stores of nutrients, microbial community composition and physiology, and the role of natural as well as experimentally introduced variations of these for ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling and losses. Stable isotopic methodologies at natural abundance and enriched levels (SIP, stable isotopic probing) are important tools.


SG 0272 Silviculture - The science of forest stand management, BI1369 Forest Ecosystem Ecology


  • Paradigm shift in the view of ectomycorrhizal symbiosis in boreal forest - but in which direction? Funded by FORMAS - a Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development.
  • Tracking forest carbon-nitrogen pathways at nano-scale: Quantification of microbial assimilation of tree photosynthates and soil nitrogen by high-throughput stable isotopic analysis of RNA arrays. Funded by VR -the Swedish Research Council.
  • Sustainable management of carbon and nitrogen in future forests. Funded by FORMAS.
  • Which forests leach N? Exploring the microbial mechanisms and bioindicators of soil nitrogen retention. Funded by FORMAS.


Environmental Science and Technology Department, Maryland University, College Park, USA.


University degrees and diplomas
1986 Molecular Biology Programme, Umeå University, Sweden.

Doctoral degree
2004 PhD exam in Biology at the Dept. of Forest Mycology and Pathology, SLU, Uppsala. Thesis entitled ”Carbon and Nitrogen Relations Among Soils, Microbes, and Plants in Boreal Forests”.

Post doctoral visits
2004-2005, at the Dept. of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University (OSU), Corvallis, OR, USA). Affiliate Assistant Professor at the same department. 

Senior lecturer expertise
2009 Associate Professorship in Soil Biology.

Current post
20100901- Researcher, FLK, Dept. of Forest Ecology and Management, SLU Umeå.

2006 “Gunnar Torstensson’s Award”. Awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.

Referee for international scientific journals:  
Biogeochemistry, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Ecology, Ecosystems, Environmental Microbiology, FEMS Microbial Ecology, Forest Ecology and Management, Frontiers in Microbiology, Functional Plant Biology, Geoderma, Journal of Vegetation Science, Journal of Soils and Sediments, New Phytologist, Oecologia, Plant and Soil, PLOS ONE, PNAS, Science, Soil Biology & Biochemistry, Soil Science Society Journal of America, and Tree Physiology.


PhD students:
Robert Blasko completed 2014, thesis “Plant-Microbe-Soil Interactions and Soil Nitrogen Dynamics in Boreal Forests”. Deputy supervisor for Martin Rappe Georg, SLU Uppsala, 2016, thesis entitled “Nitrogen in Soil Water of Coniferous Forests”.

Post-doctoral fellows:
Christian Klatt (2012-2014). Deputy supervisor for Niles Hasselquist (2010-2011), Richard Lucas (2010 - 2011), Lisbet Holm Bach (2010-2011), Stephanie Yarwood (2007-2011), Elin Norlin(2009-2010), Sonja Keel (2007-2008).

Selected publications

Bibliometrics, Publications referred to as Highly Cited (top 1% in plant sciences or environment/ecology) are marked*.  Scopus per 2024-02-01. H-index: 33. Total number of citations c. 7000 , <4 % self citations. 

Citations in textbooks:

  • Forest Ecology: An Evidence-Based Approach. Wiley Blackwell. Dan Binkley. 2021.
  • Ecology and Management of Forest Soils. Fifth edition. Binkley & Fischer. 2020.
  • Mycorrhizal Mediation of Soil. First edition. Johnson, Gehring, Jansa. 2017.
  • Molecular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis. Martin. 2016.
  • Soil Biology and Biochemistry. Fifth edition. Paul. 2015.
  • Mineral Nutrition of higher Plants. Third edition. Marschner. 2012.
  • Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Second edition. Chapin, Matson, Vitousek. 2011.
  • Mycorrhizal Symbiosis. Third edition. Smith & Read. 2008.

Google Scholars citations are found at  Google Scholar

Peer Review Publications

Högberg P., Lucas R.W., Högberg M.N., Skyllberg U., Egnell G., Larson J., Binkley D. (2024) What happens to trees and soils during five decades of experimental nitrogen loading? Forest Ecology and Management 533, 121644

Henriksson, N., Marshall, J., Högberg, M.N., Högberg, P., Polle, A., Franklin, O., Näsholm, T. (2023) Re-examining the evidence for the mother tree hypothesis – resource sharing among trees via ectomycorrhizal networks. New Phytologist In Press

Högberg, P., Högberg, M.N. (2022). ACORN Reviews. Does successful forest regeneration require the nursing of seedlings by nurse trees through mycorrhizal interconnections? Forest Ecology and Management 516, 120252

Högberg,   M. N., Högberg, P., Wallander, H., Nilsson, L.-O. (2021) Carbon and nitrogen relations of ectomycorrhizal fungi across a natural N supply gradient in boreal forest. New Phytologist 232:1839-1848. 

Högberg, P., Wellbrock, N., Högberg, M. N., Mikaelsson, H., Stendahl, J. (2021) Large differences in plant nitrogen supply in German and Swedish forests - Implications for management. Forest Ecology and Management 482, 118899. 

Högberg, M.N., Högberg, P., Skyllberg, U., Knicker, H. (2020) Does ectomycorrhiza have a key role in the formation of soil organic matter in boreal forests? Soil Biology and Biochemistry 140, 107635.

Haas, J. C., Street, N. R., Sjödin, A., Lee, N. M., Högberg, M. N.,  Näsholm, T., Hurry, V. (2018) Microbial community response to season and plant nutrient optimisation in a boreal Norway spruce forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 125:197-209. 

Yarwood, S.A., Högberg, M.N. (2017). Soil bacteria and archaea change rapidly in the first century of Fennoscandian boreal forest development. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 114:160-167. 

*Högberg, P., Näsholm, T., Franklin, O., Högberg, M.N. (2017). Tamm Review: On the nature of the nitrogen limitation to plant growth in Fennoscandian boreal forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 403:161-185.

Blaško, R., Holm Bach, L., Yarwood, S. A., Trumbore, S. E., Högberg, P., and Högberg, M. N. (2015). Shifts in soil microbial community structure, nitrogen cycling and the concomitant declining N availability in ageing primary boreal forest ecosystems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 91:200–211. 

Franklin, O., Näsholm, T., Högberg, P., Högberg, M.N. (2014). Forests trapped in nitrogen limitation – an ecological market perspective on ectomycorrhizal symbiosis. New Phytologist 203:657–666. 

Högberg, M. N., Blaško B., Holm Bach L., Hasselquist, N. Egnell, G., Näsholm, P., Högberg, P. (2014). The return of an experimentally N-saturated boreal forest to an N-limited state: observations on the soil microbial community structure, biotic N retention capacity and gross N mineralization. Plant and Soil 381:45–60. 

Högberg, M. N., Yarwood, S. A., Myrold, D. D. (2014). Fungal but not bacterial soil communities recover after termination of decadal nitrogen additions to boreal forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 72:35-43. 

Högberg, P., Johannisson, C., Högberg, M. N. (2014). Is the high 15N natural abundance of trees in N-loaded forests caused by an internal ecosystem N isotope redistribution or a change in the ecosystem N isotope mass balance? Biogeochemistry 117:351-358. 

Högberg, M.N., Högbom, L., Kleja D.B. (2013). Soil microbial community indices as predictors of soil solution chemistry and N leaching in Picea abies (L.) Karst. forests in S. Sweden. Plant and Soil 372:507-522. 

Blasko, R., Högberg, P., Holm-Bach, L., Högberg, M.N. (2013). Relations among soil microbial community composition, nitrogen turnover, and tree growth in N-loaded and previously N-loaded boreal spruce forest. Forest Ecology and Management 302:319-328.

*Näsholm, T., Högberg, P., Franklin, O., Metcalf, D., Keel, S., Hurry, V., Linder, S., Högberg, M.N. (2013). Are ectomycorrhizal fungi alleviating or aggravating the N limitation to tree growth in boreal forests? New Phytologist 198:214-221. 

Keel, S.G.,Campbell, C.D., Högberg, M.N., Richter, A., Wild, B., Zhou, X., Hurry, V., Linder, S., Näsholm, T., Högberg, P. (2012) Allocation of carbon to fine root compounds and their residence times in a boreal forest depend on root size class and season. New Phytologist 194:972-981. 

Thornton, B., Zhang, Z., Mayes, R.W., Högberg, M.N., Midwood, A. 2011. Can gas chromatography combustion isotope ratio massspectrometry be used to quantify organic compound abundance? Rapid Communication in Mass Spectrometry. 25:2433–2438. 

Högberg, P., Johannisson, C., Yarwood, S., Callesen, I., Näsholm, T., Myrold, D.D., Högberg, M.N. (2011). Recovery of ectomycorrhiza after 'nitrogen saturation' of a conifer forest. New Phytologist 189:515-525. 

*Högberg, M.N., Briones, J.I., Keel, S.G., Metcalfe, D.B., Campbell, C., Midwood, A.J., Thornton, B., Hurry, V., Linder, S., Näsholm, T., Högberg, P.(2010) Quantification of effects of season and nitrogen supply on tree belowground carbon transfer to ectomycorrhizal fungi and other soil organisms in a boreal pine forest. New Phytologist 187:485-493. 

Näsholm, T., Högberg, M.N., Högberg, P., Nordin, A.  (2009) Carbon isotopes as proof for plant uptake of organic nitrogen: Relevance of inorganic carbon uptake: Reply to Rasmussen and Kuzyakov. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 41:1588-1589. 

Yarwood, S.A., Myrold, DD., Högberg, M.N. (2009) Termination of below-ground C allocation by trees alters soil fungal and bacterial communities in a boreal forest. FEMS Microbial Ecology, 70:151-162. 

*Högberg, P., Högberg, M.N., Göttlicher, S.G., Betson, N.R., Campbell, C., Schindlbacher, A., Hurry, V., Lundmark, T., Linder, S., Näsholm, T. (2008) High temporal resolution tracing of photosynthate carbon  from the canopy to the forest soil microorganisms. New Phytologist 177: 220–228. 

Göttlicher, SG., Taylor, A.F.S., Grip, H., Betson, NR., Valinger, E., Högberg, M.N., Högberg, P. (2008) The lateral spread of tree root systems in boreal forests: estimates based on 15N uptake and distribution of sporocarps of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Forest Ecology and Management 255:75-81. 

Högberg, M.N., Chen, Y., Högberg, P. (2007) Gross nitrogen mineralisation and fungi-to-bacteria ratios are negatively correlated in boreal forests. Biology and Fertility of Soils 44:363-366. 

Giesler, R., Högberg, M.N., Strobel, B.W., Richter, A., and Högberg, P. (2007) Production of dissolved organic carbon and low-molecular weight organic acids in soil solution driven by recent tree photosynthate. Biogeochemistry 84:1-12. 

*Högberg, M.N., Myrold, D.D., Högberg, P. (2007) Is microbial community composition in boreal forest soils determined by pH, C-to-N ratio, the trees, or all three? Oecologia 150:590-601.

Högberg, M.N. (2006) Discrepancies between ergosterol and PLFA 18:2w6,9 as  markers of fungal biomass in boreal forest soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 38:3431-3435 

Högberg, M.N., Myrold, D.D., Giesler, R. Högberg, P. 2006. Contrasting patterns of soil N-cycling in model ecosystems of Fennoscandian boreal forests. Oecologia 147:96-107.

Högberg, P., Nordgren, A, Högberg, M.N., Ottosson-Löfvenius, M., Bhupinderpal-Sing, Olsson, P., Linder, S. (2005). Fractional contributions by respiration to soil-surface CO2 efflux in Boreal forests. In: The Carbon Balance of Forest Biomes. (Eds. H. Griffiths and P.G. Jarvis). Taylor & Francis Group, London, UK. p 251-267

Högberg, P., Ekblad, A., Nordgren, A. Plamboeck, A.H., Ohlsson, A., Bhupinderpal-Singh, Högberg, M.N. (2004). Factors determining the 13C abundance of soil-respired CO2 in boreal forests. In: Stable isotopes and Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions (Eds. LB Flanagan, JR Ehlringer and DE Pataki). Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, USA. p 47-68 

Persson, J., Högberg, P., Ekblad, A., Högberg, M.N., Nordgren, A., Näsholm, T. (2003) Nitrogen acquisition from inorganic and organic sources by boreal forest plants in the field. Oecologia 137:252-257. 

Högberg, M.N., Bååth, E., Nordgren, A., Arnebrant, K., Högberg, P. (2003). Contrasting effects of nitrogen availability on plant carbon supply to mycorrhizal fungi and saprotrophs – a hypothesis based on field observations in boreal forest. New Phytologist 160:225-238.

Bhupinderpal-Singh, Nordgren, A., Ottosson-Löfvenius, M., Högberg, M.N., Mellander, P.-E., Högberg, P. (2003) Tree root and soil heterotrophic respiration as revealed by girdling of boreal Scots pine forest: extending observations beyond the first year. Plant, Cell and Environment 26:1287-1296. 

Taylor, A.F.S., Fransson, P. M., Högberg, P., Högberg, M.N., Plamboeck, A.-H. (2003). Species level patterns in 13C and 15N abundance of ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal sporocarps. New Phytologist 159:757-774. 

*Högberg, M.N., Högberg, P. (2002). Extramatrical ectomycorrhizal mycelium contributes one-third of microbial biomass and produces together with associated roots, half the dissolved organic carbon in a forest soil. New Phytologist 154:791-795 Among the 1% most cited papers published in 2002 in the field of Environmental/Ecology. 

*Högberg, P., Nordgren, A., Buchmann, N., Taylor, A.F.S., Ekblad, A., Högberg, M.N., Nyberg, G., Ottosson-Löfvenius, M., and Read, D.J. (2001). Large-scale forest girdling experiment shows that current photosynthesis drives soil respiration. Nature 411:789-792.

Högberg, P., Högberg, M.N., Quist, M.E., Ekblad, A., Näsholm, T. (1999). Nitrogen isotope fractionation during N uptake by ectomycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal Pinus sylvestris. New Phytologist 142:569-576. 

*Näsholm, T., Ekblad, A., Nordin, A., Giesler, R., Högberg, M.N.,Högberg, P. (1998). Boreal forest plants take up organic nitrogen. Nature 392:914-916 Among the 1% most cited papers published in 1998 in the field Environment/Ecology .

Giesler, R., Högberg, M.N., Högberg P. (1998). Soil chemistry and plants in Fennoscandian boreal forest as exemplified by a local gradient. Ecology 79(1):119-137.

Taylor, A.F.S., Högbom, L., Högberg, M.N., Lyon, A.J.E., Näsholm, T.,  Högberg, P.  (1997). Natural 15N abundance in fruit bodies of ectomycorrhizal fungi from boreal forests. New Phytologist  136:713-720.

Högberg, P., Högbom, L., Schinkel H., Högberg, M.N., Johannisson, C., Wallmark, H.  (1996). 15N abundance of surface soils, roots and mycorrhizas in profiles of European forest soils. Oecologia 108(2):207-214.

Högberg, P., Johannisson, C., Högberg, M.N., Högbom, L., Näsholm, T., Hällgren, J.-E. (1995). Measurements of abundances of 15N and 13C as tools in retrospective studies of N balances and water stress in forests: A discussion of preliminary results. Plant and Soil 168-169: 125-133.

Högberg, P., Tamm, C.O., Högberg, M.N. (1992). Variations in 15N abundance in a forest fertilization trial: Critical loads of N, N saturation, contamination and effects of revitalization fertilization. Plant and Soil 142: 211-219.