Leonardo De La Fuente

Associate Professor

Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

The De La Fuente Lab Group

Back row (left to right) : Prem Kandel, Sy Traore, Leornardo De La Fuente, Eber Feliciano, Hajeewaka Mendis,  and Hongyu Chen

Middle row (left to right): Edel Perez, Marcus Silva, and Jordan Schoettler

Front row (left to right) : Qing Ge, Laura Gomez, Courtney Kloske, and Rachel Gravel

The research conducted in my laboratory focuses on the interactions between plant and associated bacteria. I am especially interested in plant pathogenic bacteria in aspects such as infection processes, host colonization, biofilm formation and molecular interactions. Questions about the biology of the pathogenic bacteria are being studied using microbiology and molecular biology techniques, as well as nanotechnology.

2005 Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA (Plant Pathology). Dissertation: Characterization of ecological and physiological basis of superior rhizosphere colonization of fluorescent pseudomonad genotypes. Advisors: David M. Weller and Linda S. Thomashow
2000 M.S., University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay (Biology). Thesis: Biological control strategies of the native strain Pseudomonas fluorescens UP61
1996 B.S., University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay (Biochemistry)
2014-Present Associate Professor, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University
2008-2014 Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University
2005-2008 Postdoctoral Associate. Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University. Supervisors: Harvey Hoch and Tom Burr. Use of “artificial” xylem vessels (microfluidic chambers) to study biological aspects of the bacterial pathogen Xylella fastidiosa, such as xylem colonization, biofilm formation and twitching movement.
2001-2005 Graduate research assistant. Department of Plant Pathology. Washington State University. Advisers: D.M. Weller and L.S. Thomashow. I studied ecological and physiological aspects of rhizosphere colonization by Pseudomonas fluorescens producing the antibiotic 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG).
1999-2001 Research assistant for Project “Reduction of the chemical inputs in a vegetable crop by the use of beneficial rhizospheric microorganisms.” Project Director: Philippe Lemanceau (INRA, Dijon, France). Funded by European Union. INCO-DC EU. In this joint project among European and South American laboratories, we studied the use of beneficial Pseudomonas and mycorrhizas to improve tomato yield.
1998-2001 Teaching assistant. Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Sciences, University of the Republic. Montevideo, Uruguay. Professors: Susana Castro, Adriana Estévez, Claudio Martínez. 2000. Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology courses for graduates and undergraduates students.
1997-1998 Teaching assistant. Nitrogen Fixation and Mycorrhizal Fungi Associate Unit. Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Agrononomy, University of the Republic. Montevideo, Uruguay. Professor: Lillián Frioni. 1997. Microbiology courses for graduates and undergraduates students.
1993-2001 Research scholar. Department of Biochemistry, Instituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente Estable (IIBCE). Montevideo, Uruguay. Supervisor: Alicia Arias. I studied the use of native fluorescent Pseudomonas strains to protect forage legumes against seedling diseases. The mechanisms of biocontrol elucidated in P. fluorescens UP61 included the production of antibiotics with broad range of activity against phytopathogens. I studied the interactions among biocontrol P. fluorescens strains and commercially available rhizobial strains used as inoculants in Uruguay.
  • 2012 – Schroth Faces of the Future – New Frontiers in Plant Bacteriology. American Phytopathological Society
  • 2004-2005 – Storkan-Hanes-McCaslin Foundation. Grant: “Ecology of rhizosphere fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. involved in suppression of soilborne pathogens”
  • 2004 – Graduate and Professional Students Association of the Washington State University. Graduate student travel grant to attend the 2004 APS Annual Meeting held at Anaheim, California (USA)
  • 2003 – APS Student Travel Award to attend the 2003 APS Annual Meeting held at Charlotte, North Carolina (USA)
  • 1999-2000 – International Foundation for Science (IFS) (Sweden). Grant: “Native fluorescent Pseudomonas as biocontrol agents of alfalfa seedling diseases”
  • 1999-2000 – M.Sc. Scholarship. PEDECIBA Biology (Program for the Development of Basic Sciences), University of the Republic. Montevideo, Uruguay
  • 2011-2012 – Vice Chair, Bacteriology Committee of the American Phytopathological Society
  • 2003-2004 – Senator of the students of the Department of Plant Pathology at the Graduate and Professional Students Association (GPSA) of the Washington State University
  • 2000-2001 – Member of the Board of Directors of the Uruguayan Society of Microbiology (SUM).
  • American Phytopathological Society
  • American Society for Microbiology