Sherman Lab 216/212
3190 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: (808) 956-8351

Fax: (808) 956-3894


Mitiku D. Habte

Emeritus Soil Scientist 


Soil Microbiology; Soil Biochemistry; Soil Quality; Plant - Soil Micro-organism interaction: Mycorrhizal Symbiosis;Biological Nitrogen Fixation


Agricultural & Mechanical High School, Ethiopia; B.S. Plant Sciences, Haile Selassie I University, Ethiopia; M.S. Soil Science, Cornell University; Ph.D. Soil Science, Cornell University

Research Interests:

Ecology of soil microorganisms, biological nitrogen fixation, arbuscular myorrhizal symbiosis, Microbial solubilization of phosphorus, arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum production and application for vegetable crops and tree species

Selected Publications:

  • Osorio, N.W. and M. Habte. 2013. Synergistic effect of a phosphate solubilizing fungus and an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus on Leucaena leucocephala in an oxisol fertilized with rock phosphate. Botany:10, In press.
  • Osorio, N. W. and M. Habte. 2012. Phosphate desorption from the surface of soil mineral
  • Habte, M. and N. W. Osorio. 2012. Effect of Nitrogen Form on the Effectiveness of a phosphate-solubilizing fungus to dissolve rock phosphate. J Biofertil. Biopestici. 2012, 3:1-4.
  • Youkhana, A. H. And M. Habte. 2012. Evaluation of controlled-release fertilizer and arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation for the production of Leucaena leuceocephala container seedlings. Pac. Agric. Nat. Resour. 3:1-7
  • Kawamoto, I. and M. Habte. 2011. Enhancement of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus status of an established ginger crop through a mycorrhizal onion companion crop. Soil Sci. Plant Nutr. 57:659-662.
  • Habte, M., G. Diarra, and P.G. Scowcroft. 2011. Post-transplant reactions of mycorrhizal and mycorrhiza-free seedlings of Leucaena leucocephala to pH changes in an Oxisol and Ultisol of Hawaii. Botany 89:1-9.
  • Habte, M. And M. Antal. 2010. Reaction of mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal Leucaena leucocephala to charcoal amendment of mansand and Soil. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 41:540-552.
  • Adams, Robert P., S. Nguyen, D.A. Johnston, S. Park, T. L. Provin, M. Habte. 2008.Comparison of vetiver root essential oils from cleansed (bacteria- and fungus-free) vs. non-cleansed (normal) vetiver plants. Biochem. Sysematics and Ecology.36:177-182
  • Habte, M. 2006. Arbuscular mycorrhizas in plant and soil health. In: Uphoff et al. (Eds) Biological Approaches to Sustainable Soil systems. CRC Press, Boca Raton FL.
  • Habte, M. and D. P Schmitt. 2005. Antagonsistic interaction between plant parasitic nematodes and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, pp.183-203. In: V.S. Mehrota (ed.), Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi.


Understanding critical factors contributing to the unpredictability of field response of Acacia koa to pre-transplant colonization of its roots by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi


Knowledge on arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis has increased geometrically over the past 60 years, and this has created tremendous awareness on the important roles arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi play in the nutrition and health of associated plants and on soil quality. Consequently, there has been a considerable interest to integrate the management of the fungi into practical agriculture and forestry. However, the results of field application arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in Hawaii and elsewhere have tended to be unpredictable. The causes of this unpredictability are not known. We propose to bridge this gap in knowledge through a better understanding of the key variables regulating the activities of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the rhizosphere of associated plants. Our focus will be on the impacts of the quality and quantity of indigenous AM fungi, the effects of grazing of AM hyphae by soil micro-arthropods, and the influence of land use history. The results will enable us to manage the variables for enhanced mutualistic activity of the fungi and to more carefully determine the conditions under which we can utilize the fungi with more predictable efficacy.









Granting agency: USDA

From: 10/01/2010 to 08/30/2013

Amount: 166,000.00

Utilization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi for environmentally sound production of vegetable crops in Hawaii

The project is concerned with refining the approach for determining the mycorrhizal dependency of plant species with the aim of increasing the speed and the accuracy with which it can be determined. It is also concerned with developing an approach for producing mycorrhizal seedlings that will work for plants across all categories of mycorrhizal dependency. Both efforts will contribute to the use of the arbuscular mycorrhizal technology in practical horticulture with predictable efficacy  in Hawaii and other parts of the world .

Granting agency: HATCH

From: Octobe 2013 to September 2018

Amount: Varaible

Utilization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi for environmentally sound production of vegetable crops in Hawaii

The role arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play in the nutrition and health of associated host plants and in the maintenance of soil quality has been repeatedly demonstrated  over the past four decades. And this has been the case for vegetable crops and tree species in Hawaii. However, the results of field application of AMF in Hawaii and elsewhere have often been fraught with unpredictability. The sources of this unpredictability are not clearly known. In the proposed research we intend to bridge some of this critical knowledge gap through a better understanding of the variables regulating the mycorrhizal dependence of host plants and through optimization of conditions in the nursery for the production of robust seedlings well colonized by AMF. 

Granting agency: USDA/HATC

From: October 2013 to September 2018

Amount: Variable


  • Sherman 212-Soil Biology/Biochemistry - Members