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Pruess Lab Spotlight

November 2022

The Pruess lab has many news from this fall regarding publications, grants, and patents:

  • Horne, S.M. and B.M. Prüß. 2022. A wash of ethyl acetoacetate reduces externally added Salmonella enterica on tomatoes. Antibiotics. 11: 1134. ( This paper describes the use of ethyl acetoacetate (EAA) on tomatoes. We were able to reduce several strains of Salmonella by up to 3 log. This paper is the last from a 10-year-long research project that culminated in the patent.
  • B.M. Prüß. 2022. The Three Sisters of Agriculture: An Active Learning Activity on Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation. CourseSource. 9. (  This paper describes an active learning activity that can be taught in face to face, online, or HyFlex mode and uses the symbiosis of corn, bean, and squash (Three Sisters) as a model. Students will investigate the plant benefits of the symbiosis, the nutritional value of the combination of plants, and then focus on nitrogen fixation as the driver behind the symbiosis of beans and nodule-forming Rhizobium bacteria.
  • B.M. Prüß. 2022. Monkeypox: a virus with a history, a present, and a future. EC Microbiology 18.11. ( This paper was written for everybody who likes to read about something other than Covid. I enjoyed writing it.
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a patent entitled “BIOFILM INHIBITOR AND METHOD OF INHIBITING BIOFILM” ( The inventors are Dr. Birgit Pruess, Dr. Meredith Schroeder, Dr. Shelley Horne, and Shane Stafslien. The patent describes the use of acetoacetate (AAA) and ethyl acetoacetate (EAA) to inhibit bacterial biofilm and growth. Potential applications of the invention are numerous and include food processing and clinical. The data supporting the patent were part of the Ph.D. Dissertation by Meredith, who was a Ph.D. student in Molecular Pathogenesis in the Department until 2018. Shane was our collaborator from Research and Creative Activities.
  • Adding pre-biotics to pro-biotics: chemoattractants support rhizosphere bacteria, enhancing plant growth and disease resistance.

USDA/Special Crop Block Grant by Pruess and Geddes over $190,000. This grant will fund a new collaboration that will investigate the effect of chemotaxis on the recruitment of plant-beneficial bacteria to the plant root microbiome, resulting in enhanced plant characteristics. We are testing chemoattractants for their ability to attract Rhizobium and Azospirillum. We will perform plant growth experiments with peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers to test for the competitiveness of the inoculant bacterial strains and possible effects on plant growth.

  • Erika Shay Bauer recieved the Graduate Student Teaching Award from the North America Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. The purpose of this award is to recognize and reward NACTA graduate student members who are involved in classroom instruction who excel as teachers in the agricultural disciplines. Read more about this award here!
  • Congratulations to Erika Shay Bauer for passing her master's defense in April!
  • H. Roald and Janet Lund Excellence in Teaching Award, Office of the Vice President for Agricultural Affairs, 2021.
  • William J. and Angelyn A. Austin Advising Award, Office of the Vice President for Agriculture and University Extension, 2010.
  • Larson/Yaggie Excellence in Research Award, Office of the Vice President for Agriculture and University Extension, 2006.