Nathan E. Schroeder

Director of Graduate Programs

Dr. Schroeder studies the biology of nematodes, one of the world's most abundant group of animals. He examines the anatomy of both parasitic and non-parasitic (C. elegans, P. pacificus) species using light and electron microscopy. He also works on applied projects that seek to limit the damage of plant-parasitic nematodes.

Primary Disciplines


  • PhD University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
  • BA Earlham College, 1998

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2019-present
  • Assistant Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2013-2019
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University, 2008-2013

Research Interests

  • Comparative connectome of the soybean cyst nematode esophagus. The soybean cyst nematode (SCN), Heterodera glycines, is the most damaging pathogen of U.S. soybeans. The esophagus of SCN is used to both penetrate and feed from its host. We are using electron microscopy (EM), archived EM data, and network analysis to reconstruct the anatomy of the SCN esophagus. A complete reconstruction of the esophageal nervous system (the connectome) will provide insight into mechanisms of infection and feeding behavior. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Lav Varshney in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is funded by the USDA-NIFA. Anatomical atlases of nematodes The nematode C. elegans is a model organism used to elucidate fundamental processes in cell biology. The usefulness of C. elegans is partially based on the detailed knowledge of its anatomy gained through years of painstaking light and electron microscopy. The NIH-funded WormAtlas and WormImage sites serve the research community by providing detailed anatomical descriptions and raw data of C. elegans anatomy. We are collaborating with the founder of WormAtlas, Dr. David Hall, to expand these sites to additional species. We are initially targeting the satellite species Pristionchus pacificus and plan to expand to parasitic nematode species. Evolution of nematode neuroanatomy Nervous system structure directly impacts behavioral output. Understanding how nervous systems evolved will elucidate how new behaviors emerge. Nematodes have a remarkably simple nervous system and therefore easy to compare across diverse species. We are examining the evolution of the nerve cord in nematodes. We previously showed diversity in the number of nerve cord neurons in a subset of derived nematode species (Han et al., 2016). We are currently examining evolution within the basal clades. This project was funded through generous support from the University of Illinois College of ACES and from Phil and Carol Carlson. The effect of ILEVO on plant-parasitic nematodes of corn. The soybean seed treatment ILEVO (fluopyram) is currently used to control both the fungal disease Sudden Death Syndrome and the soybean cyst nematode. We are examining the efficacy of this compound on corn against a diverse group of plant-parasitic nematodes. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Nathan Kleczewski and is generously funded by BASF.

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Androwski, RJ, Asad N, Wood JG, Hofer A, Locke S, Smith CM, Rose B, and NE Schroeder. 2020. Mutually exclusive dendritic arbors in C. elegans neurons share a common architecture and convergent molecular cues. PLOS Genetics. 16(9):e1009029
  • Thapa, S., Gates, M.K., Reuter-Carlson, U., Androwski, R.J., and N.E. Schroeder. 2019. Convergent evolution of saccate body shapes in nematodes through distinct developmental mechanisms. EvoDevo. 10:5.
  • Hughes, K., Rodriguez, A., Flatt, K.M., Ray, S., Schuler, A., Rodemoyer, B., Veerappan, V., Cuciarone, K., Kullman, A., Lim, C., Gutta, C., Gutta, N., Vemuri, S., Andriulis, V., Niswonger, D., Barickman, L., Stein, W., Singhvi, A., Schroeder, N.E., Vidal-Gadea, A.G. 2019. Physical exertion exacerbates decline in the musculature of an animal model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116(9):3508-3517
  • Cohen, J.D., Flatt, K.M., Schroeder, N.E., and M.V. Sundaram. 2019. Epithelial shaping by diverse apical extracellular matrices requires the Nidogen domain protein DEX-1 in C. elegans. Genetics. 211:184-200
  • Flatt, K.M., Beshers, C., Unal., C., Cohen, J.D., Sundaram, M.V., and N.E. Schroeder. 2019. Epidermal remodeling in C. elegans dauers requires the nidogen domain protein DEX-1. Genetics. 211:169-183
  • Han, Z., Thapa, S., Reuter-Carlson, U., Reed, H., Gates, M., Lambert, K.N., and N.E. Schroeder. 2018. Immobility in the sedentary plant-parasitic nematode H. glycines is associated with remodeling of neuromuscular tissue. PLOS Pathogens. 14(8): e1007198
  • Hung, X.B., and N.E. Schroeder. 2018. Post-embryonic ventral nerve cord development and gonad migration in Steinernema carpocapsae. Journal of Nematology. 50:1. DOI: 10.21307/jofnem-2018-005
  •  Androwski, R.A., Flatt K.M., and N.E. Schroeder. 2017. Phenotypic plasticity and remodeling in the stress-induced C. elegans dauer. WIREs Developmental Biology. 6:e278. doi: 10.1002/wdev.278
  • Han Z., Boas S., and N.E. Schroeder. 2017. Serotonin regulates the feeding and reproductive behaviors of Pratylenchus penetrans. Phytopathology. 107:872-877
  • Thapa S., Patel J.A., Reuter-Carlson U., and N.E. Schroeder. 2017. Embryogenesis in the parasitic nematode Heterodera glycines is independent of host-derived hatchinig stimulation. BMC Developmental Biology. 17:2 DOI: 10.1186/s12861-016-0144-7
  • Molohon K.J., Blair P.M., Park S., Doroghazi J.R., Maxson T., Hershfield J.R., Flatt K.M., Schroeder N.E., Ha T., and D.A. Mitchell. 2016. Plantazolicin is an ultranarrow-spectrum antibiotic that targets the Bacillus anthracis membrane. ACS Infectious Diseases. 2(3):207-220
  • Han Z., Boas, S., and N.E. Schroeder. 2016. Unexpected variation in neuroanatomy among diverse nematode species. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 9: 1-11.