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

Jordan Vacheron – Senior Researcher

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 investigated 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.

Clara Heiman – PhD Student

Clara joined the Keel group in February 2018 to carry out her Master project within the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Lausanne. She successfully defended her Master thesis in January 2019 for which she obtained the Prize of the Faculty of Biology and Medicine.

Clara started a PhD thesis in May 2019 to investigate factors of plant-beneficial pseudomonads involved in competitiveness and pathogenicity towards plant pest insects, focusing on contractile phage tail-related devices, notably tailocins .

Daniel Garrido-Sanz – Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Daniel finished his PhD thesis in June 2020 in the RIZOSFERA group at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, where he focused on the isolation and metagenomic characterization of natural-derived bacterial consortia for the bioremediation of organic pollutants, including PCBs and petroleum hydrocarbons. In his PhD project, Daniel was able to associate specific biodegradative pathways to populations within the consortia and to reconstruct the metabolic interdependence of the community. In addition, Daniel also worked with phylogenomics and comparative genomics of different bacterial groups, including the Pseudomonas fluorescens species complex and the Rhodococcus genus. Daniel joined the Keel lab in January 2021 as PostDoc to work on a project on how inoculant introduction interacts within the resident root microbiome of crops within the NCCR Microbiomes.

Nadine Harmsen – SNSF Junior Researcher

Nadine did a Master in Biology with specialisation in Microbiology and Immunology at the ETH Zurich from 2021-2023. She joined the the Keel lab in June 2023 as SNSF Junior Researcher to work in a European BiodivERsA network project on how disease suppressive soils and their microbial communities can affect the performance of emerging fungal pathogens and pest insects.

Noémie Poli – Research Intern

Noémie did a Master in Environmental Biology at the University of Fribourg from 2021-2023. She will join the Keel lab in October 2023 to do a research internship during which she will investigate bacterial isolates from the plant rhizosphere for phenotypic and genomic characteristics.

Géraldine Menoud – Master student

Géraldine joined the Keel lab in February 2024 to carry out her First-step project within the Master program in Molecular Life Sciences of the University of Lausanne. Her project explores the role of a large bacterial toxin in the zebrafish and insect pathogenicity of Pseudomonas isolates. The project is carried out in collaboration with Kinki Jim from the Veening lab.

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.