Raquel Rocha

Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology 
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
123 Huntington Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Voice: 203-974-8496 | Fax: (203) 974-8502
E-mail: Raquel.Rocha@ct.gov


Ph.D. (2019) University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Agronomy (specialization in Plant Pathology)

M.Sc. (2014) Federal University of Ceará (Brazil), Plant Biochemistry

B.Sc. (2011) Federal University of Ceará (Brazil), Biological Sciences


Station Career:

Assistant Agricultural Scientist II, 2023-present  



Dr. Rocha is a molecular plant pathologist who broadly understands how plant pathogenic fungi and nematodes respond dynamically to their environment and cause disease. She develops use-inspired basic research focused on the comprehensive and mechanistic understanding of diseases in vegetables and other crops of interest to growers in Connecticut and the northeastern United States.


Research Interests:

One of the main strategies used by plant pathogens to cause disease is to secrete specific proteins, called effectors, into the host. These effector proteins are essential to manipulate the host cell structure and function for the pathogen’s benefit without triggering any defense responses from the plant. 

Regarding root-knot nematodes (RKN), a successful parasitic association between the nematode and the plant is strongly linked with developing unique and highly specialized feeding cells within host roots. Yet, we still have a limited understanding of the exact mechanisms contributing to their differentiation and what effectors are essential for establishing the nematode feeding site. 

Dr. Rocha’s research focuses on identifying novel effector candidates, especially during the late stages of RKN parasitism. She investigates the mechanism of action of such candidates using molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches, including RNA interference (RNAi), ectopic expression in plants, and protein-protein interaction studies.


Selected publications available from the author, Raquel.Rocha@ct.gov:


Rocha, R. O., Hussey, R. S., Pepi, L. E., Azadi, P., and Mitchum, M. G. (2023). Discovery of Novel Effector Protein Candidates Produced in the Dorsal Gland of Root-Knot Nematode Adult Females. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.

Mitchum, M. G., Rocha, R. O., Huang, G., Maier, T. R., Baum, T. J., and Hussey, R. S. (2023). Genome-Guided Reanalysis of Root-Knot Nematode Meloidogyne incognita Esophageal Gland Cell-Enriched Sequence Tag Libraries: A Resource for the Discovery of Novel Effectors. PhytoFrontiers™, PHYTOFR-09.

Rocha, R. O., and Wilson, R. A. (2021). Specimen Preparation and Observations of Magnaporthe oryzae Appressorial Cells Under Electron Microscopy. Magnaporthe oryzae: Methods and Protocols, 79-85. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1613-0_6

Rocha, R. O., Elowsky, C., Pham, N. T., and Wilson, R. A. (2020). Spermine-mediated tight sealing of the Magnaporthe oryzae appressorial pore–rice leaf surface interface. Nature Microbiology, 5(12), 1472-1480.

Rocha, R. O., and Wilson, R. A. (2020). Magnaporthe oryzae nucleoside diphosphate kinase is required for metabolic homeostasis and redox‐mediated host innate immunity suppression. Molecular Microbiology, 114(5), 789-807.

Li, G., Qi, X., Sun, G., Rocha, R. O., Segal, L. M., Downey, K. S., and Wilson, R. A. (2020). Terminating rice innate immunity induction requires a network of antagonistic and redox‐responsive E3 ubiquitin ligases targeting a fungal sirtuin. New Phytologist, 226(2), 523-540.