Emma Rosenthal

Emma Rosenthal

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow
  • Advised by: Dr. Carolee Bull
111 Buckhout Lab
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Translational taxonomy
  • Phytobacteriology
  • Molecular biology
  • Bioinformatics


  • B.S. in Biology, Cornell University. Class of 2015.

Research Area

Food security depends on the development of disease-resistant crops; however, the rapid evolution of plant pathogens to evade host defenses is a constant threat to agriculture. Modern studies of plant-pathogen interactions seek to reveal a genetic basis for disease resistance and pathogenicity. Bacterial leaf spot on lettuce (BLS) is one disease that can serve as a model system. The causal agent, Xanthomonas hortorum pv. vitians (Xhv), has evolved into distinct races that vary for pathogenicity across lettuce cultivars. An understanding of this race-specific pathogenicity can later be applied in the development of refined detection methods and more comprehensive management strategies, especially those that would outlast pathogen evolution.

Since the Fall of 2016, I have been studying Phytobacteriology at Penn State. My goal is to employ tools of bacterial taxonomy, molecular biology, and bioinformatics to investigate the genetic origin of race-specific pathogenicity in Xhv. On a more applied side, I will develop a multiplex PCR to allow for race-specific detection from tissue samples and seed, which will lead to more refined cultivar recommendations for growers.

Grants and Awards

  • William Henson Diversity Achievement Award. June 2021.
  • Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society Inductee. March 2019.
  • L. Earl and Veronica Casida Graduate Scholarship. January 2019.
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellow. June 2018. 
  • Tag-Along Fund for presenting on Bacterial Taxonomy at the University of Angers, France. College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University. February 2018. 
  • Alan McNab Memorial Endowment for Vegetable Research. The Pennsylvania State University. June 2017. 
  • NASA PA Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship. The Pennsylvania State University. June 2017. 
  • Bunton Waller Graduate Assistantship. The Pennsylvania State University. April 2016. 
  • Distinction in Research, Honors. Cornell University. May 2015. 


  • Rosenthal E.R., Ramos L., Bull C.T., and Koike S.T. (2017) "First Report of Black Rot Caused by Xanthomonas campestris on Arugula in California." Plant Disease. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-10-17-1538-PDN.
  • Moriniere L, Burlet A, Rosenthal ER, Nesme X, Portier P, Bull CT, Lavire C, Le Saux MF, Bertolla F. (2020) "Clarifying the taxonomy of the causal agent of bacterial leaf spot of lettuce through a polyphasic approach reveals that Xanthomonas Cynara Trébol et al. 2000 emend. Timilsina et al. 2019 is a later heterotypic synonym of Xanthomonas hortorum Vauterin et al. 1995. Systematic and Applied Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.syapm.2020.126087.

Teaching Experience 

  • Teaching Assistant for PPEM 405: Microbes and Plants - Fall 2017, Fall 2018. The Pennsylvania State University.
  • Teaching Assistant for AGECO 121: Plant Stress, laboratory sections - Fall 2016. The Pennsylvania State University.


  • Co-founder and Co-chair, Penn State Strategic Planning Group, Latino Agriculture Outreach - Fall 2017 to present. College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University. https://news.psu.edu/story/592288/2019/10/09/academics/latinx-agricultural-network-formed-penn-state-address-communitys.
  • Secretary, Plant Pathology Association - August 2017 to August 2019. The Pennsylvania State University.
  • Member, Curriculum Committee - August 2017 to 2018. Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. The Pennsylvania State University. 
  • Member, Public Communications Committee - August 2016 to 2017. Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. The Pennsylvania State University. 
  • Treasurer, Plant Pathology Association - August 2016 to 2017. The Pennsylvania State University.