Kevin L. Hockett, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology
  • Lloyd Huck Early Career Professor
Kevin L. Hockett, Ph.D.
316 Buckhout Lab (office)
315 Buckhout Lab (lab)

University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-865-4472
Fax: 814-863-7217

Areas of Expertise

  • Bacteriology
  • Phyllosphere Microbiology
  • Protein-mediated Bacterial Antagonism
  • Molecular Biology


  1. B.S., Microbiology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
  2. Ph.D., Microbiology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA


My lab’s research focuses on understanding how organismal and molecular interactions affect the ecology and evolution of plant-associated bacteria. I utilize Pseudomonas syringae as a model system, which allows me to draw on the wealth of genetic, genomic, and phenotypic resources available for this phytopathogen. Specifically, I am interested a diverse group of protein-based toxins (termed bacteriocins) produced by P. syringae. Any given bacteriocin exhibits an extremely narrow spectrum of killing, however, a strain may produce several versions or classes of bacteriocins. I use a combination of molecular-genetic, phylogenetic, genomic, and bioinformatic approaches to test hypotheses related to these interactions.

Specific questions include:

  • What are the mechanisms by which sensitive strains become resistant to a given bacteriocin? How does acquiring resistance affect the fitness of a strain, such as when interacting with its host plant?
  • Why does a given strain produce several different bacteriocins? How does a strain’s bacteriocin diversity arise?
  • How important are bacteriocins in structuring the microbiome over leaf, plant, and field scales?
  • How can we translate the specific killing activities of bacteriocins into robust and sustainable phytopathogen control strategies?


Hockett KL and Baltrus DA. 2017. Use of the soft-agar overlay technique to screen for bacterially-produced inhibitory compounds. Journal of Visual Experiments, (119): e55064. doi:10.3791/55064

Arendt KR, Hockett KL, Araldi-Brondolo SJ, Baltrus DA, Arnold AE. 2016. Isolation of endohyphal bacteria from foliar ascomycota and in vitro establishment of their symbiotic associations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(10): 2943-2949. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00452-16

Hockett KL, Renner T, and Baltrus DA. 2015. Independent co-option of a tailed bacteriophage into a killing complex in Pseudomonas. mBio, 6(4): e00452-15. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00452-15

Baltrus DA, Hendry TA, and Hockett KL. 2014. Ecological genomics of Pseudomonas syringae. In Genomics of Plant-Associated Bacteria, D.C. Gross, A. Lichens-Park, C. Kole (Eds.). Berlin: Springer. 59-77. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-55378-3_3

Hockett KL, Nishimura MT, Karlsrud E, Dougherty K, and Baltrus DA. 2014. Pseudomonas syringae CC1557: a highly virulent strain with an unusually small type III effector repertoire that includes a novel effector. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, 27(9): 923-932. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-11-13-0354-R

Hockett KL, Ionescu M, and Lindow SE. 2014. Involvement of rppH in thermoregulation in Pseudomonas syringae. Journal of Bacteriology, 196(12): 2313-2322. doi: 10.1128/JB.00057-14

Stockwell VO, Davis EW, Carey A, Shaffer BT, Mavrodi DV, Hassan KA, Hockett KL, Thomashow LS, Paulsen IT, and Loper JE. 2013. pA506, a conjugative plasmid of the plant epiphyte Pseudomonas fluorescens A506. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 79(17): 5272-5282. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01354-13

Hockett KL, Burch AY, and Lindow SE. 2013. Thermo-regulation of genes mediating motility and plant interactions in Pseudomonas syringae. PLoS ONE, 8(3): e59850. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059850