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Beatrix Alsanius

Beatrix Alsanius


My research and field of expertise are microbial interactions in horticultural value networks, which among other comprise food safety and -quality, enteric and other human pathogens related to horticulture crops and products, plant health and microbiological control of plant diseasaes, fertility of soil and growing media, and organic compounds.

I mainly work in commercial value networks out- and indoors (e.g. hydroponic systems, aquaponic system) irrespective their site in rural or densely populated (urban, peri-urban) settings (urban horticulture, urban farming). Hygienic quality and chemical properties of water are an integral part in my research


I teach predominantly in horticulture programs (horticultural engineer, BSc in horticulture, MSc in horticulture). Among the courses I am involved in are "Hydroponic growing systems for commercial production and public areas" (15 hp), "Technological and biological basis for cropping" (15 hp), "Urban agriculture and social interactions" (15 hp), "Sustainable production systems in a global perspective" (15 hp), "Horticultural crop physiology" (15 hp) as well as "Ecology of production systems" (15 hp; Master program in agroecology). Furthermore, I participate in international courses, e.g."Climate change and land use – US and European perspectives" (3 hp) and Erasmus Intensive Program "Potentials of using biodiversity for achieving a sustainable horticulture" (6 ECTS).

Within the framework of postgraduate education I am the driving force behind the international postgraduate school"Microbial Horticulture" and course responsible for the course modules"Microbial horticulture" (6 HEC), "Methods in microbial horticulture" (6 HEC), " Microbial pathogens and biocontrol in a changing climate: a horticultural perspective (4.5 HEC), "Industry project" (4.5 HEC).


All of my research projects are based on a transdisciplinary approach. They are mostly conducted in close collaboration with horticultural industries.

  1. Safe Salad
    How do shigatoxin producing E. coli that cause EHEC infections in humans spread and survive in the value network for fruits and vegetables? How do these bacteria attach to leaf surfaces? Can they invade plant tissue? May such organisms be counteracted by beneficial bacteria? Is it possible to prevent dispersal by improved irrigation water quality? What is the roll of fertilization? Are organic leafy greens more prone to enteric bacteria as opposed to produce from integrated production? Can establishment of shigatoxin producing E. coli on leafy sallads be mitigated by cultural management? Do plant produced bioactive compound affect occurrence of enteric bacteria in horticultural production networks?
  2. Urban horticulture/ urban farming
    How does urban horticulture contribute to secured access to plant food (food security)? What is the form design of novel sustainable intensive production systems for fruits and vegetables dedicated to urban settings? How do urban intensive production systems interact with their environment from a biological, technological and social perspective? Which are the physical, chemical and microbiological hazards related to urban horticulture? How can they be resolved? What are the possibilities and limitations of informal production areas in middle sized African cities?
  3. Reduced CO2-foot prints of greenhouse production systems
    What happens in the crop when today's energy demanding production by sustainable ones? How do they affect disease attack? Are biological control agents still effective under changed production conditions?
  4. Plant health in horticultural cropping systems
    Projects connected to this topic consider both root health and canopy health. They are performed in indoor (hydroponics) and outdoor systems.
    For hydroponics, the following questions are relevant: Is it possible to optimize root health in closed cropping systems? Is it possible to predict plant health status in closed hydroponics? Can the natural microbiota assist to optimize and predict the plant health status?
    For outdoor systems, grey mould and powdery mildew in organically grown strawberries are in focus: Can grey mould and powdery mildew be controoles more efficiently by multiple strain cocktails in organic production of strawberries? How does the resident microbiota respond? How do weather conditions affect the efficacy of biocontrol agents?
  5. Aquaponic
    Aquaponic means co-cultivation of fish and horticultural plants, especially vegetables and herbs, sharing a common water cycle. How can yield and quality of vegetables and herbs be optimized in aquaponic cropping systems? What is the contribution of fish to the load and quality of plant nutrients? Which are the dominant pathogens to plants, fish and humans?
  6. Organic greenhouse horticulture
    Organic greenhouse horticulture is a means to improve sustainability, production practices and productivity in greenhouses and/or polytunnels. Improvements may however be considered regarding emissions of nutrients and footprints. Also the wise use of water and energy as well as the implementation of mechanisms to improve resilience and disease suppressiveness are important issues. This project is launched as a COST Action (FA1105, Biogreenhouse).
  7. Linneaus Palme exchange program with Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (Swedish Council for Higher Education)
    Aquaponic means co-cultivation of fish and horticultural plants, especially vegetables and herbs, sharing a common water cycle. How can yield and quality of vegetables and herbs be optimized in aquaponic cropping systems? What is the contribution of fish to the load and quality of plant nutrients? Which are the dominant pathogens to plants, fish and humans?


I am an ordinary member of the faculty board for evaluation of associate professorship candidates, LTV faculty, SLU. Within SLU, I am an acting board member within the food science network SLUFood and also head the postgraduate school "Microbial Horticulture", funded by the Swedish research council Formas. I am vice chair of the EU COST action 1105 "BioGreenhouse" and one of three Swedish national representatives within the International Society of Horticultural Sciences (ISHS). In 2011 I was appointed member of the Royal Physiographic Society.

I have been nominated as an expert for issues considering hydroponic systems, urban horticulture, hygiene in surface water and hygiene standards for irrigation water as well as growing media by national Swedish and international authorities as well as industries.



Since 2009        Chair professor in horticulture, SLU Alnarp
2010-2013         Associate professor in crop science (phytologie), Université Laval, Québec, Canada
2007-2009         Tenured professor in horticulture, particularly horticultural production systems, SLU Alnarp
2006-2007         Senior lecturer in horticulture, particularly horticultural production systems, SLU Alnarp
2001-2006         Research leader in horticulture, specialty microbial interactions in hydroponic production systems, Dept of Crop Science, SLU Alnarp
1998-2001         Researcher, SLU Alnarp, Dept of Horticulture, SLU Alnarp
1992-1998         Assistant professor in horticulture, in particular environmentally sound greenhouse production systems
1991-1992         Researcher, Dept of Horticulture, SLU Alnarp

Postdoctoral guest research

1994                    USDA-ARS Root Disease and Biocontrol unit and Washington State University, Pullman WA, USA
1992                    INRA Institut de phytobactériologie et pathologie végétale, Angers, France


2010                    Venia legend for crop science, Université Laval, Québec
2006                    Venia legendi for plant protection ecology, SLU
1999                    Venia legendi for horticulture, SLU
1991                    PhD, Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität Bonn, Germany
1982                    Dipl-Ing., Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms Universität Bonn, Germany

A career as a researcher did not come natural after graduating from Bonn university in Germany. Instead work with national and international offices called and it is was there the insight on the need of expert knowledge for successful work in these settings grew strong. Fueled by my interest for plant health related to complex problems in intensive production systems I therefore enrolled in post graduate education at Bonn university. Part of my experimental work was executed at SLU in Sweden. After my PhD at Bonn university, I became assistant professor at SLU Alnarp, dealing with microbiological stabilization of closed hydroponic cropping systems. During that period I also did guest research on bacteria antagonistic to root pathogens at INRA (Institut de phytobactériologie et pathologie végétale) in Angers, France, and at USDA-ARS/Washington State University, USA. I became associate professor in horticulture in 1999 and seven years later (2006) also in plant protection ecology. In 2007, I was employed as senior lecturer in horticulture, particularly horticultural production systems and was appointed professor within the framework of this position. In 2009, I was appointed chair professor in horticulture at SLU Alnarp and in 2010, associate professor in crop science (phytologie) at Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

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