Interactions of bacteria with plants

Many bacteria produce small diffusible signal molecules to co-ordinate expression of particular phenotypic traits, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing (QS). Often the regulated functions are involved in the pathogenesis or symbiosis of the bacteria. Hence, QS not only enables bacteria to communicate with each other but also provides an interface for interactions with their eukaryotic hosts. Our main interest is to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying QS in members of the genus Burkholderia and to understand the role of QS for the ecology of the organisms in their natural habitats, particularly for pathogenic or symbiotic interactions with plants.

Inhibition of quorum sensing was shown to represent a highly attractive option for the treatment of bacterial infections in humans. Using genetic and biochemical tools we have developed a high throughput screen to identify respective drug candidates. The main focus of this line of research is in the detection of compounds in vegetables, spices and plants.

Recent Publications

  • Leaf nodule symbiosis: function and transmission of obligate bacterial endophytes
    Pinto-Carbo, M; Gademann, K; Eberl, L; Carlier, A
    CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY, 44 23-31; 10.1016/j.pbi.2018.01.001 AUG 2018
  • Involvement of Burkholderiaceae and sulfurous volatiles in disease-suppressive soils
    Carrion, VJ; Cordovez, V; Tyc, O; Etalo, DW; de Bruijn, I; de Jager, VCL; Medema, MH; Eberl, L; Raaijmakers, JM
    ISME JOURNAL, 12 (9):2307-2321; 10.1038/s41396-018-0186-x SEP 2018
  • Heterologous Expression, Biosynthetic Studies, and Ecological Function of the Selective Gq-Signaling Inhibitor FR900359 
    Crusemann, M ; Reher, R; Schamari, I ; Brachmann, AO ; Ohbayashi, T; Kuschak, M; Malfacini, D; Seidinger, A; Pinto-Carbo, M; Richarz, R; Reuter, T; Kehraus, S; Hallab, A; Attwood, M; Schioth, HB; Mergaert, P; Kikuchi, Y; Schaberle, TF; Kostenis, E; Wenzel, D; Muller, CE; Piel, J; Carlier, A ; Eberl, L; Konig, GM
    ANGEWANDTE CHEMIE-INTERNATIONAL EDITION, 57 (3): 836-840, JAN 15 2018 Article (Details)
  • Mutations in Two Paraburkholderia phymatum Type VI Secretion Systems Cause Reduced Fitness in Interbacterial Competition 
    de Campos, Samanta Bolzan; Lardi, Martina; Gandolfi, Alessia; et al. 
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 8:10.3389/fmicb.2017.02473 DEC 12 2017 Article (Details)
  • The Essential Genome of Burkholderia cenocepacia H111 
    Higgins, Steven; Sanchez-Contreras, Maria; Gualdi, Stefano; et al. 
    JOURNAL OF BACTERIOLOGY, 199 (22): 10.1128/JB.00260-17 NOV 2017 Article (Details)
  • The endophyte Candidatus Burkholderia crenata of the TCM plant Ardisia crenata produces the selective Gq-inhibitor FR900359 
    Reher, R.; Schamari, I.; Kehraus, S.; et al. 
    PLANTA MEDICA, 82: DEC 2016 Meeting Abstract (Details)
  • Prophage-triggered membrane vesicle formation through peptidoglycan damage in Bacillus subtilis 
    Toyofuku, Masanori; Carcamo-Oyarce, Gerardo; Yamamoto, Tatsuya; et al. 
    NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 8: 10.1038/s41467-017-00492-w  SEP 7 2017
  • Competition Experiments for Legume Infection Identify Burkholderia phymatum as a Highly Competitive beta-Rhizobium
    Lardi, M (Lardi, Martina)[ 1 ] ; de Campos, SB (Bolzan de Campos, Samanta)[ 1 ] ; Purtschert, G (Purtschert, Gabriela)[ 1 ] ; Eberl, L (Eberl, Leo)[ 1 ] ; Pessi, G (Pessi, Gabriella)[ 1 ]
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY 8: Article Number: 1527, DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01527, AUG 15 2017
Eberl Leo

Prof. Dr. Leo Eberl
University of Zurich
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 634 82 20

Research topics

  • Quorum sensing in bacteria
  • Bacteria-plant interactions
  • Burkholderia diversity
  • Plant-derived QS blocker


  • Functional genomics
  • Secondary metabolites Infection models
  • Bacteria-host interactions