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Dr. Erica Goss

Associate Professor, Plant Pathology and Emerging Pathogens Institute


Plant Pathology: (352) 273-4650
EPI: (352) 294-5318
Office: Rm. #2415, Fifield Hall
2550 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL, 32611




I study the origins, evolution, population structure, and migration of plant pathogens. I am also interested in microbial ecology and the molecular evolution of virulence and host range as relates to the emergence of new pathogens.

  • Education

    Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago, 2005

    B.A. Biology, Wesleyan University, 1997

  • Research

    Pathogen evolution

    My group’s research is on the ecological and evolutionary processes underlying pathogen emergence or re-emergence. We study bacteria, fungi, and oomycetes. In collaboration with Plant Pathology colleagues Jeff Jones and Gary Vallad, we are studying the population biology and evolution of the pathogens that cause bacterial spot of tomato, particularly Xanthomonas perforans. Bacterial spot is a major disease problem for Florida tomato growers and management is challenged by the highly dynamic pathogen population.

    We are also studying the emergence of fungal pathogens on an invasive grass and the effects of these pathogens on an ongoing plant invasion. The annual grass Microstegium vimineum is one of the most aggressive and troublesome plant invaders in the eastern US. Invasions occur in forests, along roads and streams, and in interior forest and riparian areas. In a collaboration with Dr. Phil Harmon and colleagues at UF, Indiana University, and Tulane University, we are characterizing the fungi colonizing this grass and their interactions with the invader and co-occurring native plants to learn about pathogen emergence on a new host.

    We continue to be interested in the processes leading to emergence of Phytophthora pathogens, both new diseases and new genotypes of existing pathogens. Our current work focuses on Phytophthora on tropical and subtropical crops. We also study the closely related genus Pythium, focusing on life history evolution.

    Dr. Marina Ascunce is integrating her past work on invasive fire ants and recent work on microbes to study transmission of fungal and bacterial microbes across ant species. This project is a new collaboration with Entomology, SFRC, and the USDA ARS

    Lab Members

    • Dr. Sujan Timilsina
    • Dr. Maria Ascunce
    Graduate Students
    • Fernanda Iruegas Bocardo
    • Jeannie Klein-Gordon (co-advised)
    • Ashish Adhikari (co-advised)
    • Brett Lane
    • Andrew Gitto (co-advised)
    Undergraduate Researchers
    • Kamila Hernandez
    Marina’s Ant Microbe Team
    • Marie de Gracia Coquerel, PhD
    • Andrew Nisip, BS
    • Sara Zollota
    • Andrew McAuley
    • Patricia Perez
    • Tori Argenti
    • Nabil Chowdhury
    • Jieli Wegerif
  • Publications

    View a collection of my publications on Google Scholar

  • Teaching

    I teach PLP6621 Applied Population Genetics of Microbes, which is an intermediate level graduate course that introduces students to population genetics and hands-on analysis of data. I am also the instructor for ALS3923 CALS Honors Orientation, which prepares undergraduates in the College to write a thesis on independent research.