Maeli Melotto


Position Title

  • Faculty
UC Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616


  • Ph.D., Michigan State University (U.S.); Plant Breeding and Genetics, 1999
  • M.Sc., University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, SP (Brazil); Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 1993
  • B.Sc., São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rio Claro, SP (Brazil); Biology, 1989

Research interests and expertise: 

I study the molecular and genetic mechanisms of plant immunity against pathogens and virulence strategies employed by bacteria to overcome plant defenses that allow them to infect leaves. In the long term, my goals are: a) To dissect the molecular and biological function(s) of plant proteins and bacterium factors that determine the outcome of the plant pathosystem (i.e., resistance/susceptibility to bacterial infections), and b) To uncover the molecular strategies used by the human pathogens, Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli, to internalize leafy vegetables and survive in the intercellular space.

Current projects: 


  • Tissue-specific immune responses in Arabidopsis, tomato, and sugarcane (funded by NIAID, Henry A. Jastro Research Award, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI)
  • Molecular mechanisms of human bacterial pathogens internalization and survival in edible leaves (funded by the Henry A. Jastro Research Award, CA Leafy Greens Research Board, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI)
  • Genetic resistance in crop plants (funded by CAPES, CNPq, and the UC Davis-FAPESP SPRINT program)
  • Plant and microbial indicators of soil health (funded by USDA-NIFA-AFRI)



Current teaching: 

  • Microbiology and Safety of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables; PLS 174 (winter quarter)
  • Growth and Yield of Cultivated Plants; PLS 100B (winter quarter)
  • Seminar in Plant Biology; PBI 292 (spring quarter)
  • Scientific Writing Seminar; PLS 290 (spring quarter)

Prizes, Awards, Honors

  • Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel, Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International, New York; 2017
  • Special Visiting Researcher Fellowship, National Council for Scientific and Technology Development of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (CNPq/MCTI), Brazilian Federal Government; 2015ñ2018
  • Phi Kappa Phi Recognized Professor, UTA Chapter; 2013

Google Scholar



  • Common bean
  • Arabidopsis
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Plant genetics and genomics
  • Plant molecular biology
  • Stomatal defense
  • Plant immune response
  • Bacterial virulence
  • Plant diseases
  • Plant-microbe interactions
  • Food safety