The focus of my program is on disease ecology in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, with emphasis on the soil ecology of oomycete pathogens.
My research program focuses on the ecology of plant pathogens and the diseases they cause in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The goal of our work in natural ecosystems is to understand the role of soil pathogens in plant community dynamics, especially plant invasions. We take advantage of plant-soil feedback theory to serve as a framework for our specific studies. Currently, my lab is exploring the ecology of oomycete pathogens in wetland ecosystems invaded by Phragmites australis and the potential mechanisms by which these pathogens spillback to native plants, reducing their competitiveness, and facilitating the success of invasive species. We are also exploring ways in which invading plants interact with pathogen-suppressive rhizosphere microbial communities to promote invasive success in non-native ranges.
The goal of our work in agricultural systems is to understand the mechanisms by which organic soil amendments suppress soilborne diseases caused by oomycetes in the genus Pythium.
Outreach and Extension Focus
An applied emphasis of my work is in the area of biological control of oomycete diseases and in the management of invasive plant species.
I currently teach undergraduate courses related to the biology and ecology of infectious diseases. An overriding theme of my undergraduate courses is the integration of human, animal, and plant disease biology into a common conceptual framework. This provides a means of examining disease as a unique biological process common to all organisms. The typical preparation for medical and veterinary students does not include such a broad treatment of disease processes. My courses focus on advanced concepts, emphasizing critical analyses of primary research literature.
- Carr, E. A., & Nelson, E. B. (2014). Disease-suppressive vermicompost induces a shift in germination mode of Pythium aphanidermatum zoosporangia. Plant Disease. 98:361-367.
- Nelson, E. B., & Karp, M. (2013). Soil pathogen communities associated with native and non-native Phragmites australis populations in freshwater wetlands. Ecology and Evolution. 3:5254-5267.
- Chen, M., & Nelson, E. B. (2012). Microbial-induced carbon competition in the spermosphere leads to plant pathogen and disease suppression in a municipal biosolids compost. Phytopathology. 102:588-596.
- Chen, M., Jack, A. L., McGuire, I. C., & Nelson, E. B. (2012). Seed-colonizing bacterial communities associated with the suppression of Pythium seedling disease in a municipal biosolids compost. Phytopathology. 102:478-489.
- Windstam, S., & Nelson, E. B. (2008). Differential interference with Pythium ultimum sporangium activation and germination by Enterobacter cloacae in the corn and cucumber spermospheres. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:4285-4291.
- Windstam, S., & Nelson, E. B. (2008). Temporal release of seed exudate fatty acids and their sugar-regulated degradation by Enterobacter cloacae. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74:4292-4299.
- Chen, M., & Nelson, E. B. (2008). Seed-colonizing microbes from municipal biosolids compost suppress Pythium ultimum damping-off on different plant species. Phytopathology. 98:1012-1018.
- Arcate, J. M., Karp, M. A., & Nelson, E. B. (2006). Diversity of Peronosporomycete (oomycete) communities associated with the rhizosphere of different plant species. Microbial Ecology. 51:36-50.
- Nelson, E. B. (2004). Microbial dynamics and interactions in the spermosphere. Annual Review of Phytopathology. 42:271-309.
- Nelson, E. B. (2006). Rhizosphere regulation of preinfection behavior of oomycete plant pathogens. p. 311-343 Microbial Activity in the Rhizosphere Mukerji, K.G., Manoharachary, C., Singh, J. (ed.), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.