My laboratory studies mutualistic and antagonistic interactions between parasites and microbial pathogens and their insect hosts. The primary focus of her research program is on the so-called “entomopathogenic nematodes” (a.k.a. EPN) which encompass two families, Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae. These nematodes associate with Gamma-Proteobacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) of the genera Xenorhabdus (for Steinernematidae) and Photorhabdus (for Heterorhabditidae). Nematodes and their bacterial symbionts team up to form an insecticidal complex that kills a wide range of soil dwelling insects.
For many decades EPN have been studied worldwide, mostly as biological control agents of agricultural and forestry pests. However, over the past two decades, the EPN-symbiont-insect tripartite system has been also viewed as a tractable model system that is amenable to study the physiological, chemical, structural and developmental aspects of beneficial symbiotic associations and their differences from pathogenic associations.
With this perspective, research in my lab focuses on the establishment, maintenance and evolution of the mutualistic association between these nematodes and their bacterial symbionts. I am also interested in studying the role of this symbiotic partnership in trophic complexities and their interactions with other organisms in the food web. Recently, my laboratory has expanded its research focus to discover and characterize secondary metabolites from insect pathogenic bacteria including the EPN bacterial symbionts. We are also investigating the role of the nematodes' symbiotic bacteria in the production of pheromones (ascarosides).
Contact: S. Patricia Stock Department of Entomology University of Arizona Email: email@example.com
Photographs throughout these pages are copyright (C) protected by Patricia Stock, various lab members, or were obtained through Creative Commons license agreements.