2017 – 2019 Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award
Jeri has pioneered studies of plant colonization mechanisms by the plant symbiont Salmonella enterica. Our lab studies the biology of S. enterica in both the phyllosphere and rhizosphere. We have been able to fill out missing components of the S. enterica life cycle by characterizing molecular components used specifically in association with plants and diverse animal niches (e.g., mice and insects).
Although the study of S. enterica alone in plant – microbe interactions has been interesting and enlightening, it’s unlikely that this human pathogen encounters a plant host without a native microbiome or insect infestation. Our investigations now turn to the more complicated (and probably more natural) scenario with multiple interactors such as phytopathogenic bacteria and phytophagous insects. This work is allowing us to add details to the S. enterica life cycle that has been overlooked: Hemipterans and phytopathogenic bacteria as biomultipliers of S. enterica in the phyllosphere and the capacity of phytophagous Hemipterans to vector S. enterica among plants.