S Stock

Research Interests

Dr. Stock's research is centered on the study of nematodes parasites and pathogens of insects. Her primary focus has been on the so-called “entomopathogenic nematodes” (also known as EPN) which encompass two families, Steinernematidae and Heterorhabditidae and their bacterial symbionts, γ-Proteobacteria of the genera Xenorhabdus and Photorhabdus, respectively. my research program has branched out to cover various basic and applied aspects of the life history of EPN and their bacterial symbionts. For example, one of her primary research interests relates to the study of the evolutionary relationships among Steinernema spp. and their bacterial symbionts, Xenorhabdus spp., based on the knowledge that the majority of these symbionts species have a specific association with their nematode host. Her lab also investigates aspects that relate to the establishment and maintenance of the mutualistic association between steinernematid nematodes and their bacterial symbionts. Over the past six years her research has provided fundamental knowledge of a structure dedicated to the establishment and maintenance of a symbiotic Furthermore, her team and collaborators are also investigating the physiological and molecular underpinnings of symbiont contributions to nematode fitness. We have been funded by the National Science Foundation to continue with this investigation. Major focus areas of this research are: (a) determine the extent of symbiont specialization among Steinernema nematodes, (b) investigate bacterial traits contributing to nematode fitness and competitiveness and (c) study the molecular basis of symbiont selection during transmission with focus on bacterial genes necessary for colonization. Another area of her research program focuses on the consideration of suitable models for understanding trophic complexities and interactions of mutualists in food webs. Specifically,we consider the EPN-bacterium-insect model system to explore how physiological conditions of one of the three partners – the host insect – affects the system as a whole. Her team is investigating the impact of the insect internal environment (influenced by diet choices) on bacterial symbiont colonization and proliferation, and its effect on its mutualistic partner’s (nematode) fitness. The newest research area in Dr. Stock's program focuses on the study active compounds from symbiotic bacteria of entomopathogenic nematodes, as a bio-rational control strategy of plant parasitic nematodes and plant pathogenic bacteria consideringa multidisciplinary approach encompassing natural product chemistry, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics. Dr. Stock has authored and co-authored 100 refereed papers, nine chapters in books and edited one book on molecular approaches and techniques for the study of insect pathogens.