Dr. Benjamin Sikes

Ben Sikes
  • Associate Professor
  • Associate Scientist
  • Research Interests: Fungal Ecology, Plant and Soil Community Ecology, Adaptations to Extreme Environments, Restoration and Sustainable Agriculture

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
Lab Phone:
Higuchi Hall, room #41


Dr. Benjamin Sikes is a microbial ecologist whose research focuses on soil fungi, their community interactions and use in ecosystem management.


Research interests:

  • soil
  • microbes
  • fungi
  • mycorrhizas
  • succession
  • ecosystem management
  • endophytes


Teaching interests:

  • fungi
  • microbial ecology
  • community ecology
  • restoration ecology

Selected Publications

  • Semenova-Nelsen, T. A., Platt, W. J., Patterson, T. R., Huffman, J., and Sikes, B. A. 2019. Frequent fire reorganizes fungal communities and slows decomposition across a heterogeneous pine savanna landscape. New Phytologist.
  • Bufford, J. L., Hulme, P. E., Sikes, B. A., Cooper, J. A., Johnston, P. R., and Duncan, R. P. 2019. Novel interactions between alien pathogens and native plants increase plant-pathogen network connectance and decrease specialization. Journal of Ecology108: 750–760. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.13293
  • Hansen, P. M., Semenova-Nelsen, T. A., Platt, W. J., and Sikes, B. A. 2019. Recurrent fires do not affect the abundance of soil fungi in a frequently burned pine savanna. Fungal Ecology 42: 100852.
  • Klymiuk, A. A., and Sikes, B. A. 2019. Suppression of root-endogenous fungi in persistently inundated Typha roots. Mycologia 111(5): 748--757.
  • Sikes, B. A., Bufford, J., Hulme, P., Cooper, J., Johnston, P., and Duncan, R. 2018. Import volumes and biosecurity interventions shape the arrival rate of fungal pathogens. PLOS Biology 16(5): e2006025. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006025
  • Sikes, B. A., Paszalek, J., de Leon, N. E., and Hawkes, C. V. 2017. Regardless of N-substrate, multiple fungal root endophytes isolated from pastures outgrow and outcompete those isolated from undisturbed sites. Pedobiologia 63: 52-58.
  • Bufford, J., Hulme, P., Sikes, B., Cooper, J., Johnston, P., and Duncan, R. 2016. Taxonomic similarity, more than contact opportunity, explains novel plant-pathogen associations between native and alien taxa. New Phytologist 212(3): 657-667.
  • Sikes, B. A., Hawkes, C. V., and Fukami, T. 2016. Plant and root-endophyte assembly history: interactive effects on native and exotic plants. Ecology 97(2): 484-493.
  • Aslan, C., B. A. Sikes, and K. Gedan. 2015. Research on mutualisms between native and non-native partners can contribute critical ecological insights. Neobiota 26: 39-54.
  • Powell, J. R., and B. A.Sikes. 2014. Method or madness: Does OTU delineation bias our perceptions of fungal ecology? New Phytologist 202(4): 1095-1097. doi:10.1111/nph.12823
  • Sikes, B. A., H. Maherali, and J. N. Klironomos.  2013.  Mycorrhizal fungal growth responds to soil characteristics, but not host plant identity, during a primary lacustrine dune succession. Mycorrhiza 1: 8.
  • Sikes, B. A.. 2012. "Internalizing Conservation through our own Microbes" Conservation Biology. 26(2). 198.
  • Courtney, K. C., L. D. Bainard, B. A. Sikes, A. M. Koch, M. M. Hart, H. Maherali, and J. N. Klironomos. 2012. "Determining a minimum detection threshold in terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis" Journal of Microbiological Methods. 88(1). 14-18.
  • Sikes, B. A., H. Maherali, and J. N. Klironomos. 2012. "Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities change among three stages of primary sand dune succession but do not alter plant growth" Oikos. 121. 1791-1800.
  • Schnitzer, S. A., J. N. Klironomos, J. HilleRisLambers, L. L. Kinkel, P. B. Reich, K. Xiao, M. C. Rillig, B. A. Sikes, and R. M. Callaway. 2011. "Soil microbes drive the classic plant diversity­ productivity pattern" Ecology. 92(2). 296-303.
  • Harnden, J., A. S. MacDougall, and B. A. Sikes. 2011. "Field-based effects of allelopathy in invaded tallgrass prairie" Botany. 89(4). 227-234.
  • Sikes, B. A.. 2010. "When do arbuscular mycorrhizas protect plant roots from pathogens?" Plant Signaling and Behavior. 5(6). 763-765.
  • Sikes, B. A., J. R. Powell, and M. C. Rillig. 2010. "Deciphering the relative contributions of multiple functions within plant-microbe symbioses" Ecology. 91(6). 1591-1597.
  • Wolfe, B. E., J. L. Parrent, A. M. Koch, B. A. Sikes, M. Gardes, and J. N. Klironomos. 2009. "Spatial heterogeneity in mycorrhizal populations and communities: scales and mechanisms" Mycorrhizas - Functional Processes and Ecological Impact. edited by Azcon-Aguilar, C., J. M. Barea, S. Gianinazzi, and V. Gianinazzi-Pearson. 167-185.
  • Sikes, B. A., K. Cottenie, and J. N. Klironomos. 2009. "Plant and fungal identity determines pathogen protection of plant roots by arbuscular mycorrhizas" Journal of Ecology. 97. 1274-1280.
  • Howard, R. J., S. E. Travis, and B. A. Sikes. 2007. "Rapid Growth of a Eurasian haplotype of Phragmites australis in a restored brackish marsh in Louisiana, USA" Biological Invasions. 10(3). 369-379.