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Eric Nelson

Eric Nelson


323 Plant Science Building
(607) 255-7841

The focus of my program is on disease ecology in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, with emphasis on the soil ecology of oomycete pathogens.

Research Focus

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.

Teaching Focus

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.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Book Chapters

  • 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.