Tarah Sullivan

Tarah Sullivan

Associate Professor and Scientist of Soil MicrobiologyDepartment of Crop and Soil SciencesAffiliate, Center for Native American Research and Collaborations Faculty Researcher in Molecular Plant Sciences 509-335-4837 Clark 439 PO Box 646420, Pullman, WA 99164 

NSF-RaMP Project

Research Interests

My research emphasis is on linking function with phylogeny of the soil microbiome, specifically with regard to the interactions and impacts on soil health, plant vigor, metal bioavailability, and human health.  The soil microbiome is key in biotransformations that allow soils to support plant vitality and human health in innumerable ways, and this has allowed me to expand my science into projects to support traditionally underrepresented groups, smallholder farmers, agroforestry, and Indigenous peoples across the PNW. Understanding the consortia of organisms and the metabolic mechanisms of biogeochemistry drives the work in my lab with a wide array of basic and applied science, using traditional cultivation-based and molecular techniques.


Ph.D., Cornell University, Soil Science, Sub-disciplines: Microbiology, Toxicology, 2010
M.S., Colorado State University, M.S., Soil Science, Emphasis: Microbiology, 2004
B.S., Colorado State University, Restoration Ecology/Rangeland Ecosystem Science, 2002

News Articles

Courses Taught

SOIL_SCI 541: Soil-Plant-Microbe Interactions – taught in even years, spring semesters. Relationships of soil organisms with plant nutrition, plant health, and environmental cleanup; rhizosphere chemistry and microbial ecology.

SOIL_SCI 531L: Soil Microbiology – taught in odd years, spring semesters. Lab-based course reviewing basic microbiology and how these organisms create and maintain soil, their role in nutrient cycling, ecosystem function, agriculture, and bioremediation.

Recent Publications

Lewis, R.W., P.A. Okubara, T.S. Sullivan, B.J. Madden, K.L. Johnson, M.C. Charlesworth, and E.P. Fuerst. Proteome-wide response of dormant caryopses of the weed, Avena fatua L., following colonization by a seed-decay isolate of Fusarium avenaceum. Phytopathology, (Submitted).

Dilla-Ermita, J.D., R.W. Lewis, T.S. Sullivan, and S.H. Hulbert. Soil-borne disease suppression through wheat genotype-specific rhizobiome recruitment. Frontiers in Plant Science. (Submitted).

Lewis, R.W., Fuerst, P., Okubara, P., and T.S. Sullivan* 2020. Chronic sublethal Aluminum exposure and Avena fatua caryposis colonization influence gene expression of Fusarium avenaceum Fa 1. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11:51. 

Hansen, J.C., W.F. Schillinger, T.S. Sullivan, and T.C. Paulitz. 2020. Camelina: Decline in soil microbial abundance when camelina introduced into a monoculture wheat system. Frontiers in Microbiology11:2916.

Sullivan, T.S.*, and G.M. Gadd. 2019. Metal bioavailability and the soil microbiome. Advances in Agronomy, Volume 155, Chapter 3.

Schlatter, D.C., J.C. Hansen, W.F. Schillinger, T.S. Sullivan, and T.C. Paulitz*. 2019. Common and unique microbial communities in the rhizosphere of wheat and canola in a semiarid Mediterranean environment. Applied Soil Ecology, 144: 170-181.

Stacey, N., R. Lewis, J. Davenport, and T.S. Sullivan*. 2019. Composted biosolids for golf course turfgrass management: Impacts on soil microbiome and nutrient cycling.  Applied Soil Ecology, 144: 31-41.

Hansen, J.C.*, W.F. Schillinger, T.S. Sullivan, and T.C. Paulitz, 2019. Soil microbial community biomass and fungi reduced with canola introduced into long-term monoculture wheat rotations. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10: 1-12 (DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01488).

Lewis, R., Islam, A., Dilla-Ermita, J.C., Hulbert, S.H., and T. S. Sullivan* 2019. High-throughput siderophore screening from environmental samples: plant tissues, bulk soils, and rhizosphere soils. Journal of Visualized Experiments, Issue 144e59137 (DOI: 10.3791/59137)

Lewis, R., L. Opdahl, A. Islam, J. Davenport, and T.S. Sullivan*. 2019. Comparative genomics, siderophore production, and iron scavenging potential of root zone soil bacteria isolated from ‘Concord’ grape vineyards. Microbial Ecology (DOI: 10.1007/s00248-019-01324-8).

Lewis, R., M.K. LeTourneau, J. Davenport, and T.S. Sullivan*. 2018. ‘Concord’ grapevine nutritional status and chlorosis rank associated with fungal and bacterial root zone microbiomes. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (doi: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2018.06.011).

Barth, V.P., C.R. Reardon, T. Coffey, A.M. Klein, C.L. McFarland, D.R. Huggins, and T.SSullivan*. 2018. Stratification of soil chemical and microbial properties under no-till management after lime amendment. Applied Soil Ecology (doi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2018.06.001).

Hansen, J.C., W.F. Schillinger, T.S. Sullivan, and T.C. Paulitz, 2018. Rhizosphere microbial communities of canola and wheat at six paired field sites in eastern Washington. Applied Soil Ecology (doi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2018.06.012).

Lewis, R.W., V.P. Barth, T. Coffey, C.R. McFarland, C.R., D. Huggins, and T.S. Sullivan*. 2018. Altered bacterial communities in long-term no-till soils associated with stratification of soluble Aluminum and soil pH. Soils, Special Issue: Soil Processes Controlling Contaminant Dynamics, 2(1), 7; doi: 10.3390/soils2010007.

Allen, B., M. Drake, N. Harris, and T.S. Sullivan*. 2017. Using KBase to assemble and annotate prokaryotic genomes. Current Protocols in Microbiology, 46, 1E.13.1–1E.13.18. doi: 10.1002/cpmc.37.

Paul, N.C., T.S. Sullivan, T.S., and D.H. Shah. 2017. Differences in antimicrobial activity of chlorine against twelve most prevalent poultry-associated Salmonella serotypes. Food Microbiology, 64: 202-209.

Tautges, N.E., T.S. Sullivan, C.L. Reardon, and I.C. Burke. 2016. Soil microbial diversity and activity linked to crop yield and quality in dryland organic wheat production system. Applied Soil Ecology 108:258-268.