Nathan E. Schroeder

Assistant Director of Graduate Programs

Dr. Schroeder makes new discoveries on the biology of nematodes, one of the world’s most abundant group of animals. His work identifies how nematodes survive difficult environmental conditions, which helps control parasitic nematodes and reveals how higher animals like humans deal with stress.

Primary Disciplines


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

Academic Positions

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Genetics Rutgers University, 2008-2013
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Crop Sciences University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2013-present

Research Interests

  •  We are interested in developmental and behavioral adaptations to stress in plant-parasitic and free-living nematodes.  Specifically how do these animals survive and thrive in adverse and changing environments? The model organism and nematode C. elegans undergoes a developmental switch and enters into a stress-resistant dauer stage under adverse environmental conditions.  We found that certain neurons in the head undergo extensive dendrite arboriztion during dauer formation.  Following a return to favorable environments these neurons remodel again and return to a non-dauer morphology.  We are exploring the function and mechanisms behind this and other adaptations during the dauer stage. Heterodera glycines, the soybean cyst nematode, is the most destructive pathogen of soybeans.  It is capable of surviving for 9 years in the absence of a host plant. What adaptations allow such long-term survival and what are the mechanistic underpinnings?  We are exploring the nervous system of this animal to uncover how they sense and adapt to adverse conditions.  Our goal is to develop alternative control strategies for H. glycines and other economically important plant-parasitic nematodes.   

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Schroeder N.E. and A.E. MacGuidwin. 2007. Incorporation of a fluorescent compound by Heterodera glycines. Journal of Nematology. 39(1):43-49
  • Schroeder N.E., Gerhardt D.J., Phibbs A., and A.E. MacGuidwin. 2008. First report of Cactodera milleri in Wisconsin. Plant Disease. 92(4):656
  • Schroeder N.E. and A.E.MacGuidwin. 2010. Mortality and behavior in J2 Heterodera glycines following exposure to isothiocyanate compounds. Journal of Nematology. 42(3):194-200
  • Schroeder N.E. and A.E. MacGuidwin. 2010. Behavioral quiescence reduces penetration and toxicity of exogenous compounds in J2 Heterodera glycines. Nematology. 12(2):277-287
  • Schroeder N.E, Androwski, R.J., Rashid, A., Lee, H., Lee, J., and M.M. Barr. 2013. Dauer-specific dendrite arborization in C. elegans is regulated by KPC-1/Furin. Current Biology. 23(16):1527-1535
  • Schroeder N.E. and K.M. Flatt. 2014. in vivo imaging of dauer-specific neuronal remodeling in C. elegans. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 91: doi: 10.3791/51834
  • Han Z., Boas, S., and N.E. Schroeder. 2016. Unexpected variation in neuroanatomy among diverse nematode species. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 9: 1-11.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Han Z., Boas S., and N.E. Schroeder. 2017. Serotonin regulates the feeding and reproductive behaviors of Pratylenchus penetrans. Phytopathology. 107:872-877
  • 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. (In press).