Maria L. Marco ('14)

(Speaker Term: 7/1/12 - 6/30/14)

University of California, Davis
1136 RMI North, One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Phone: 530-752-1516
Fax: 530-752-4759

Speaker's URL:



You Are What You Eat: Diet, Prebiotics, Probiotics and Health
Diet has a significant influence on the composition and functional attributes of our gut-associated microbes. Prebiotic carbohydrates and dietary probiotic bacteria offer unique opportunities to elucidate the mechanisms which determine how diet influences host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions in the gut. In this lecture, I will describe our recent investigations into the effects of diet and food delivery matrices on probiotic intestinal performance. Our findings show that diet and specific dietary components (i.e., prebiotics) alter the physiological and immunomodulatory effects conferred by microorganisms in the intestine.


The Indigenous Plant Microbiota as Drivers of Fresh Produce Food Safety
Human pathogens are increasingly associated with fresh produce and constitute a significant threat to the safety of our food supplies. The survival of these organisms on plant surfaces is dependent on several factors including environmental conditions and the other microbes colonizing the plants. This lecture will describe the results of my lab's studies on the indigenous phyllosphere microbiota of field-grown Romaine lettuce plants harboring an avirulent E. coli O157:H7 inoculant. Our identification of the plant microbiota by high-throughput sequencing and complementary analyses of E. coli O157:H7 on growth-chamber grown plants highlights the function of the native phyllosphere bacteria in regulating pathogen colonization of lettuce.


Olives, Lactics, -omics and Approaches to Guide "Wild" Plant Fermentation
The development of human civilization was greatly advanced by our ability to preserve and store foods and beverages. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are the primary organisms responsible for most plant, dairy, and meat-based fermented foods eaten today. This lecture will highlight my lab's investigations into the specific molecular adaptations of LAB for growth on plants and plant tissues and the development of LAB in the complex microbial ecosystems of food fermentations. 


Maria Marco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science & Technology, The University of California, Davis.  She received her BS in microbiology from The Pennsylvania State University (1995) and Ph.D. on plant-microbe interactions at The University of California, Berkeley (2002).  She then worked as postdoc and research scientist leading fundamental and applied research for the food and dairy industry in The Netherlands.  In 2008, she initiated her laboratory at UC Davis to study the molecular genetics, ecology, and host-microbe interactions of lactic acid bacteria in food systems and the mammalian digestive tract.  The broad objective of her lab is to understand the roles of food-associated bacteria in food processing, food safety, and human health.  Milk is of particular interest because of the bioactive and microbial components in dairy products that have the potential to benefit health.


CV is available by request from at ASM Headquarters



Primary Division:       P (Food Microbiology)

Secondary Division:   O (Fermentation & Biotechnology)