Wageningen Plant Research
In my current research I mainly focus on bacterial plant diseases. In close collaboration with farmers and growers, our research team studies the origin and spread of a variety of diseases, develops new detection methods and investigates the possibilities of biological control agents. This is done using a variety of tools and methods, from simple cultivation and plating techniques, diverse molecular detection tools, to metagenomic studies and bioinformatic analysis.
In addition, I am currently building up an expertise in using loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) as well as Nanopore sequencing for the on-site detection of viral and bacterial pathogens.
Furthermore, I am involved in projects that study soil health and the impact of diverse management practices on soil health with the goal of giving concrete advice to farmers to improve soil quality.
PhD project: causes and consequences of soil bacterial rarity
In my PhD project at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) I investigated the factors shaping soil bacterial abundance and the role of rare soil bacteria. I could show that many rare soil bacterial species can grow quickly and utilize a wide range of substrates, indicating that slow growth and a narrow niche are unlikely to cause rarity. In contrast, predation by protists was found to reduce several bacterial species to low abundances. However, overall the causes of rarity can be various.
In addition, I studied the effect of rare bacterial species in soil on the systemic resistance of plants against aphids. In contrast to earlier studies, loosing rare bacteria did not negatively affect plant resistance. However, in the presence of rare species the survival of an artificially introduced bacterial species was reduced, indicating that rare bacteria can play a major role in the suppression of invasions.
I did my Bachelor and Master thesis in Biological Sciences at the University of Cologne. Herein, I mainly focused on the field of ecology.