Linda Gouka

Ir. Linda Gouka MSc

PhD Candidate
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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands



During my PhD, I am investigating yeast colonizing the aboveground part of the plant, the phyllosphere. We are particularly interested in the wheat flag leaf, the last leaf before the grain emerges. These yeasts are characterized on their ecological and biocontrol potential.


PhD Student

Research groups


Key publications

  • Trends in Plant Science

    Ecology and functional potential of phyllosphere yeasts

    Linda Gouka, Jos M Raaijmakers, Viviane Cordovez
    The phyllosphere (i.e., the aerial parts of plants) harbors a rich microbial life, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and yeasts. Current knowledge of yeasts stems primarily from industrial and medical research on Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, both of which can be found on plant tissues. For most other yeasts found in the phyllosphere, little is known about their ecology and functions. Here, we explore the diversity, dynamics, interactions, and genomics of yeasts associated with plant leaves and how tools and approaches developed for model yeasts can be adopted to disentangle the ecology and natural functions of phyllosphere yeasts. A first genomic survey exemplifies that we have only scratched the surface of the largely unexplored functional potential of phyllosphere yeasts.
  • Frontiers in Plant Science

    Genetic, Phenotypic and Metabolic Diversity of Yeasts From Wheat Flag Leaves

    Linda Gouka, Caroline Vogels, Lars H. Hansen, Jos M. Raaijmakers, Viviane Cordovez
    The phyllosphere, the aboveground part of a plant, is a harsh environment with diverse abiotic and biotic stresses, including oscillating nutrient availability and temperature as well as exposure to UV radiation. Microbial colonization of this dynamic environment requires specific adaptive traits, including tolerance to fluctuating temperatures, the production of secondary metabolites and pigments to successfully compete with other microorganisms and to withstand abiotic stresses. Here, we isolated 175 yeasts, comprising 15 different genera, from the wheat flag leaf and characterized a selection of these for various adaptive traits such as substrate utilization, tolerance to different temperatures, biofilm formation, and antagonism toward the fungal leaf pathogen Fusarium graminearum. Collectively our results revealed that the wheat flag leaf is a rich resource of taxonomically and phenotypically diverse yeast genera that exhibit various traits that can contribute to survival in the harsh phyllosphere environment.

Projects & collaborations


  • Matrix - Diversity and functions of the phyllosphere microbiome

    Project 2020–2025
    In this project we study the taxonomic and functional diversity of the phyllosphere microbiome of wheat. Together with our Danish and US partners, we isolate and characterize yeasts and bacteria living on and in the flag leaf of wheat. The ultimate goal is to identify novel phyllosphere microbes that contribute to tolerance of wheat plants exposed to abiotic and biotic stresses.
    Phyllosphere microbes