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.


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.

Clara Heiman – Master Student

Clara is a student of the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Lausanne. She joined the Keel lab in February 2018 to carry out her Master project.

Samantha Gozel – Master Student

Samantha is a student of the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Lausanne. She joined the Keel lab in September 2018 to carry out her First-step project.

Antoine Jacot – Lab technician

Antoine is a biology lab technician from the Ecole supérieure de la santé in Lausanne. He joined the Keel lab in April 2018.


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.