Anja Boss

Research interests

Engineering bacterial symbionts to improve their biocontrol potential against agricultural pests

My research focuses on Photorhabdus bacteria, the symbionts of Heterorhabditis entomopathogenic nematodes. With the help of these bacteria, the nematodes kill different insects, including herbivorous pests. Once transported into the insects by the nematodes, the bacteria produce an arsenal of immunosuppressants, digestive proteins and metabolites that kill the insect and allow the nematodes to grow and multiply. Insects are not passive victims of these organisms. Some insects for instance sequester plant defense compounds and use them for their own defense against entomopathogenic nematodes and their symbiotic bacteria. It is the case of the larvae of the western corn rootworm that accumulate plant defenses such as benzoxazinoids from corn roots. Using these benzoxazinoids, the western corn rootworm larvae suppress the growth of the pathogenic bacteria of the nematodes and therefore increase the probability of surviving an attack by these organisms. Through my research, I aim at improving our capacity to fight the western corn rootworm, a major agricultural pest of global importance, by engineering novel benzoxazinoid resistance-traits into bacterial symbionts of entomopathogenic nematodes.



ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anja_Boss

Anja Boss




+41 32 718 30 76

Room A016