Rachel L. Vannette

Rachel L. Vannette

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Briggs Hall 43


  • B.A., Biology, Calvin College
  • Ph.D., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Departmental affiliations: Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Graduate group affiliations: Entomology (ENT), Graduate group in Ecology (GGE), Microbiology (MGG)

Laboratory research interests: Plant-microbe-insect interactions, chemical ecology, community ecology

Lab and office location: 43 Briggs Hall

Lab Website


Brief overview

All plants are colonized by microorganisms that influence plant traits and interactions with other species, including insects that consume or pollinate plants. I am interested in the basic and applied aspects of microbial contributions to the interaction between plants and insects. I also use these systems to answer basic ecological questions, such as what mechanisms influence plant biodiversity and trait evolution.

Much of the work in my lab focuses on how microorganisms affect plant defense against herbivores and plant attraction to pollinators. For example, we are interested in understanding the microbial drivers of soil health, which can influence plant attractiveness to herbivores and the plant’s ability to tolerate or defend against damage by herbivores. In addition, we are working to examine how microorganisms modify flower attractiveness to pollinators. This may have relevance in agricultural systems to improve plant and pollinator health.

Current projects:

  • Effects of nectar-inhabiting microbes on plant-pollinator interactions
  • Chemical and microbial ecology of nectar
  • Effects of soil biota on plant-herbivore interactions

Contact: rlvannette@ucdavis.edu

Office #: 530-752-3379 

Lab #: 530-752-4317