Soumi Joseph is a Postdoctoral Associate in the laboratory of Dr. Tesfamariam Mengistu.
She obtained her PhD in Applied Biological Sciences and Bioengineering from the University of Ghent and the Catholic University of Leuven, both in Belgium. Her doctoral research focused on the analysis of RNA interference (RNAi) strategies against migratory parasitic nematodes of banana. She conducted functional characterization of different genes in the nematodes, Pratylenchus coffeae, Radopholus similis, and Caenorhabditis elegans using RNAi as a reverse genetic tool and also analyzed transcriptome data of P. coffeae using 454 next generation sequencing technologiy. She also assessed the feasibility of RNAi as a control strategy for developing nematode resistance within the host plants. Her research interest is mainly focused on understanding the interactions that occur between plants and their pathogens. Greater insight into plant-nematode/microbe interaction can provide novel biotechnological approaches to crop protection.
Her current research at UF is aimed at elucidating aspects of the parasitic relationship between the bacterial parasites, Pasteuria spp and their host nematodes (root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp). and soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines)). She has been conducting laboratory, greenhouse and field experiments to characterize virulent isolates of Pasteuria populations from Florida. The main aim of this project is to identify and understand the genotypic variation within a P. penetrans population and use this information to find an appropriate formulation and application regime of Pastauria for achieving efficient management of root-knot and soybean cyst nematodes.
She is actively involved in nematology extension services, conducting morphological and molecular identification and systematics of different plant-parasitic nematodes isolated from different states within the United States. She is also involved in other collaborative projects including research to understand ascaroside signaling in root-knot nematodes, molecular nematode surveys to study the genetic variability within field populations of root lesion nematodes as well as the research to understand naturally co-evolved multitrophic plant-nematode-antagonist interactions in nature to identify a robust commercially successful biological control agent for plant parasitic nematodes.