Current lab members



Christoph Keel – Group leader

Christoph completed his studies in Agronomy with specialization in Plant Sciences at ETH Zurich in 1985. He carried out his doctoral research at the Institute of Phytomedicine at ETH Zurich, working with Geneviève Défago on biological control of soil-borne plant diseases. He received his PhD and the ETH silver medal in early 1989. He then was an OECD postdoctoral fellow with R. James Cook, David Weller and Linda Thomashow at Washington State University, Pullman, USA, investigating the molecular diversity of rhizosphere pseudomonads. He returned to ETH Zurich to work as a group leader at the Institute of Plant Sciences/Phytopathology. In 1995, he joined the group of Dieter Haas at the University of Lausanne as a group leader (Maître d’Enseignement et de Recherche I). He developed an independent research group, studying molecular interactions of pseudomonads with plants, fungal pathogens and insects. Since 1998, he serves in the steering committee of the Swiss Society for Phytiatry (Phytopathology/ Applied Entomology) and was president from 2003 to 2009.

Teaching activities


Maria Péchy-Tarr – Senior researcher

Maria was born in Hungary. She obtained her Master in Biochemistry and food biology from the Budapest University of Technology in 1979. She studied industrial biotechnology at the same University until 1982 and obtained her PhD in 1985. In this work she devloped a novel in vitro receptor-binding assay for benzodiazepin drugs. She moved to Switzerland in 1989 and worked in the lab of Dieter Haas at the University of Lausanne from 1998 to 2003. She joined the Keel lab in September 2003. Maria has long-term experience in the molecular analysis of bacterial interactions with plants and insects. Her current research focus is on the role of toxins, signals and cell envelope-associated factors in insect virulence of pseudomonads.


Jordan Vacheron – Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Jordan finished his PhD thesis in December 2015 in the Microbial Ecology Laboratory at the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1. The PhD thesis work of Jordan was focused on plant-associated bacteria of the Pseudomonas fluorescens lineage making part of the so-called plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). Jordan invesigated in particular the distribution and the functioning of plant-beneficial traits across fluorescent pseudomonads, from genomes to microbial populations, using molecular, bioinformatic and ecological approaches. He then did a one-year postdoc in Lyon, working on the biological control of parasitic plants using PGPR. Jordan joined the Keel lab in December 2016 in order to investigate Pseudomonas-insect-plant interactions.

Pascale Flury – Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Pascale studied biology at the University of Basel and finished with a MSc in Plant Sciences in 2011. For her Master thesis, she worked in the group of Prof. Thomas Boller on plant innate immunity. In 2012, she joined the group of Dr. Monika Maurhofer at ETH Zurich as a PhD student in the Plant Science Center PhD Program Science & Policy. In her PhD project, she investigated the interaction of plant-beneficial pseudomonads with insects. By using comparative genomics and molecular methods, she identified several factors that contribute to insecticidal activity of phylogenetically distinct groups of pseudomonads. Moreover, she was interested in ecological aspects of insects as alternative hosts for root-colonizing pseudomonads. After finishing her PhD in November 2016, she joined the Keel lab to work within the National Research Program NRP 68 Phase II on Soil as a Resource. Pascale is studying the biocontrol potential of a combination of fluorescent pseudomonads and entomopathogenic nematodes formulated in alginate-based beads against root-feeding insect pests.

Nicola 4-cropped

Nicola Imperiali – PhD Student

Nicola joined the Keel lab in February 2012 to carry out a project within the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine. The focus was on elucidating the regulation of an insect toxin in plant-beneficial pseudomonads. He obtained his master degree in 2013 and started his PhD work within the National research program NRP 68 on Soil as a Resource. Nicola is developing fluorescent reporter tools which he uses in combination with fluorescence microscopy and FACS-based flow cytometry to study the influence of soil types and agricultural practices on the expression of genes contributing to plant-beneficial and insecticidal activities of root-associated pseudomonads.


Céline Terrettaz – PhD Student

Céline did her Bachelor studies in Biology at the University of Lausanne. She joined the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine in autumn 2010 to carry out a First step project on DNA mismatch repair in Caulobacter crescentus in the group of Justine Collier at the Department of Fundamental Microbiology. She then did her Master project in the Department pf Plant Molecular Biology in the group of Christiane Nawrath on the localization ABC transporters involved in plant cutin deposition. She earned her Master’s degree in January 2012. Céline joined the Keel lab as a PhD student in January 2014 to investigate the role of extracellular polysaccharides in colonization and insect pathogenicity of beneficial pseudomonads that live in close association with roots.

Béatrice Tappy – Master Student

Béatrice is a student of the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Lausanne. She joined the Keel lab in September 2017 to carry out her First-step project.

Daniela Nunes Clemente – Lab technician

Daniela is a biology lab technician from the Ecole supérieure de la santé in Lausanne. She joined the Keel lab in December 2017.


Pseudomonas protegens CHA0 – Lab beast

Isolated by Geneviève Défago from a disease-suppressive tobacco field soil near lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland back in the 1980es. Domesticated and still in use in the Keel lab as a model bacterium which surprises with an exciting variety of features and capacities.