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

  • Copper resistance genes of Burkholderia cenocepacia H111 identified by transposon sequencing
    Higgins, Steven; Gualdi, Stefano; Pinto-Carbo, Marta; Eberl, Leo
    Environmental Microbiology Reports  12(2): 241-249 DOI: 10.1111/1758-2229.12828   APR 2020
    Early Access: FEB 2020
  • Chimeric peptidomimetic antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria
    Luther, Anatol; Urfer, Matthias; Zahn, Michael; Mueller, Maik; Wang, Shuang-Yan; et al.
    Nature, 10.1038/s41586-019-1665-6, Published: DEC 19 2019
  • Burkholderia cenocepacia utilizes a type VI secretion system for bacterial competition
    Spiewak, HL; Shastri, S; Zhang, LL; Schwager, S; Eberl, L; Vergunst, AC; Thomas, MS
    MICROBIOLOGYOPEN, 8 (7):10.1002/mbo3.774 JUL 2019
  • Bacterial Adhesion on Soft Materials: Passive Physicochemical Interactions or Active Bacterial Mechanosensing?
    Straub, H; Bigger, CM; Valentin, J; Abt, D; Qin, XH; Eberl, L; Maniura-Weber, K; Ren, Q
    ADVANCED HEALTHCARE MATERIALS, 8 (8):10.1002/adhm.201801323 APR 2019
  • An Integrated Systems Approach Unveils New Aspects of Microoxia-Mediated Regulation in Bradyrhizobium diazoefficiens
    Fernandez, N; Cabrera, JJ; Varadarajan, AR; Lutz, S; Ledermann, R; Roschitzki, B; Eberl, L; Bedmar, EJ; Fischer, HM; Pessi, G; Ahrens, CH; Mesa, S
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 10 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00924 MAY 7 2019
  • The Compound 2-Hexyl, 5-Propyl Resorcinol Has a Key Role in Biofilm Formation by the Biocontrol Rhizobacterium Pseudomonas chlororaphis PCL1606
    Calderon, CE; Tienda, S; Heredia-Ponce, Z; Arrebolala, E; Carcamo-Oyarce, G; Eberl, L; Cazorla, FM
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 10 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00396 FEB 2019
  • Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of the Novel Growth Inhibitor Streptol Glucoside, Isolated from an Obligate Plant Symbiont
    Hsiao, CC; Sieber, S; Georgiou, A; Bailly, A; Emmanouilidou, D; Carlier, A; Eberl, L; Gademann, K
    CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL, 25 (7):1722-1726; 10.1002/chem.201805693 FEB 2019
  • Antibiotics Stimulate Formation of Vesicles in Staphylococcus aureus in both Phage-Dependent and -Independent Fashions and via Different Routes
    Andreoni, F; Toyofuku, M; Menzi, C; Kalawong, R; Shambat, SM; Francois, P; Zinkernagel, AS; Eberl, L
  • Biosynthesis of fragin is controlled by a novel quorum sensing signal
    Jenul, C; Sieber, S; Daeppen, C; Mathew, A; Lardi, M; Pessi, G; Hoepfner, D; Neuburger, M; Linden, A; Gademann, K; Eberl, L
    NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 9 10.1038/s41467-018-03690-2 MAR 2018
  • Key Players and Individualists of Cyclic-di-GMP Signaling in Burkholderia cenocepacia
    Richter, AM; Fazli, M; Schmid, N; Shilling, R; Suppiger, A; Givskov, M; Eberl, L; Tolker-Nielsen, T
    FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 9 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03286 JAN 2019
  • Types and origins of bacterial membrane vesicles
    Toyofuku, M; Nomura, N; Eberl, L
    NATURE REVIEWS MICROBIOLOGY, 17 (1):13-24; 10.1038/s41579-018-0112-2 JAN 2019
  • The afc antifungal activity cluster, which is under tight regulatory control of ShvR, is essential for transition from intracellular persistence of Burkholderia cenocepacia to acute pro-inflammatory infection
    Gomes, MC; Tasrini, Y; Subramoni, S; Agnoli, K; Feliciano, JR; Eberl, L; Sokol, P; O'Callaghan, D; Vergunst, AC
    PLOS PATHOGENS, 14 (12):10.1371/journal.ppat.1007473 DEC 2018
  • Thanatin targets the intermembrane protein complex required for lipopolysaccharide transport in Escherichia coli
    Vetterli, SU; Zerbe, K; Muller, M; Urfer, M; Mondal, M; Wang, SY; Moehle, K; Zerbe, O; Vitale, A; Pessi, G; Eberl, L; Wollscheid, B; Robinson, JA
    SCIENCE ADVANCES, 4 (11):10.1126/sciadv.aau2634 NOV 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
  • 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
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