Scott D. Soby PhD

Associate Professor, Associate Director Biomedical Sciences

Midwestern University
College of Health Sciences
Biomedical Sciences
Cactus Wren 306-E
19555 N 59th Avenue
Glendale, Arizona, USA
Office: (623) 572-3858
Lab: (623) 537-6038


Ph.D. Plant Pathology University of California, Davis 1989
M.S. Biology (Microbiology) Northeastern University 1984
BS Biology Graceland College 1979


Environmental microbiology, Host-pathogen interactions, Agricultural policy

Human and animal health rest squarely on the amount and quality of food produced. Despite the abundance of food in developed countries, the many global challenges to sustainable agriculture are increasing in frequency and difficulty both in the developing world and in industrialized nations. The phytobiome (the sum of the microbes associated with plants and soils) is now recognized as a critical component of plant health and development, but little is known about these organisms, how they influence plant and soil health, or how microbial populations have evolved in response to domestication of crop plants.

We have developed a model system for comparing the phytobiomes of a plant which has only recently come to be grown under cultivation. Cranberry has been grown in cultivation for less than 200 years, and both wild and cultivated bogs grow in close geographic proximity in eastern Massachusetts. We have been collecting samples from both wild and cultivated bogs for several years to understand the individual phytobiomes of these sampling sites.

Research projects

Project I:

Metasequencing of bog soils. Coupled with a catalog of cultivable bacteria, we are working with ASU Biodesign and UMass Cranberry Station to provide an understanding of what kinds of bacteria are present in wetlands soils that support the growth of wild cranberries, in comparison to commercial cranberry bog soils.

Project II:

The bacterial genera Chromobacterium and Pseudomonas are ubiquitous in cranberry bogs, but little is known of their functional role in that environment. We have been characterizing new species within this genus, and examining these organisms for traits that may be useful in disease or insect control.

Project III: 

Agricultural development policy has largely relied on outdated development models, or on model hybrids that have a poor record of robustness either in guiding or predicting development or underdevelopment. A new model is being developed based on an understanding of biological and agricultural principles.

Selected Publications