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Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.

  • Lester Earl and Veronica Casida Career Development Professor of Food Safety
  • Assistant Professor of Food Science
Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.
437 Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building
University Park, PA 16803
Work Phone: 814-865-2883

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Safety
  • Foodborne Pathogens
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Epidemiology
  • Comparative, Functional and Evolutionary Genomics
  • Microbiomes

Education

  1. BSc - University of Ljubljana (Microbiology, concentration: Microbial Biotechnology)
  2. PhD - University of Ljubljana (Biosciences, concentration: Biotechnology)
  3. Postdoc - Cornell University (Microbial genomics; Wiedmann lab)

Research

The goal of our research is to advance understanding of genetic and environmental factors driving:

(i) expression of virulence factors;
(ii) evolution of antimicrobial resistance;
(iii) transmission and persistence of foodborne pathogens.

We use a precision food safety approach, including comparative genomics and metagenomics to generate the knowledge needed for the development of effective intervention strategies leading to a safer and sustainable food supply chain.

Lab members

Visit our lab website.

Publications

Kovac lab co-authors are indicated in bold type; the corresponding author is indicated with *.

2019
Liao, J., Hohl Orsi, R., Carroll, L. M., Kovac, J., Ou, H., Zhang, H., Wiedmann, M*. 2019. Serotype-specific evolutionary patterns of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella enterica. BMC Evolutionary Biology, doi.org/10.1186/s12862-019-1457-5.
 
Kovac, J. Precision food safety: a paradigm shift in detection and control of foodborne pathogens. 2019. mSystems, doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00164-19.
 
Harrand, A. S., Kovac, J., Carroll, L. M., Guariglia-Oropeza, V., Kent, D. J., Wiedmann, M. 2019. Assembly and characterization of a pathogen strain collection for produce safety applications: Pre-growth conditions have a larger effect on peroxyacetic acid tolerance than strain diversity. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.01223.
 
Weller, L. D., Kovac, J., Kent, D. J., Roof, S., Tokman, J. I., Mudrak, E., Wiedmann, M.*. A conceptual framework for developing recommendations for no-harvest buffers around in-field feces. 2019. Journal of Food Protection, doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-414.
 
Reichler, S. J., Martin, N. H., Evanowski, R. L., Kovac, J., Wiedmann, M., Orsi, R. H. 2019. A century of gray: a genomic locus found in 2 distinct Pseudomonas spp. is associated with historical and contemporary color defects in dairy products worldwide. Journal of Dairy Science, doi.org/10.3168/jds.2018-16192.
 
Bell, T. H., Hockett, K., Alcala-Briseno, R. I., Barberchek, M., Beattie, G. A., Bruns, M. A., Carlson, J., Chung, T., Collins, A., Emmett, B., Esker, P., Garrett, K., Glenna, L., Gugino, B. K., del Mar Jimenez Gasco, M., Kinkel, L., Kovac, J., Kowalski, K., Kuldau, G., Leveau, J., Mischalska-Smith, M., Myrick, J., Peter, K., Vivanco Salazar, Shade, A., Stopinsek, N., Tan, X., Wickings, K., Tergeau, E. 2019. Manipulating wild and tamed phytobiomes: Challenges and opportunities. Phytobiomes, doi:10.1094/PBIOMES-01-10-0006-W.
 
Beno, S. B., Orsi, R. H., Cheng, R. A., Kent, D. J., Kovac, J., Duncan, D. R., Martin, N. H., Wiedmann, M. 2019. Genes associated with psychrotolerant Bacillus cereus group isolates. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00662.
 
Carroll, L.M., Wiedmann, M., Mukherjee, M., Nicholas, D.C., Mingle, L.A., Dumas, N.B., Cole J.A., Kovac, J.* 2019. Characterization of emetic and diarrheal Bacillus cereus strains from 2016 foodborne outbreak using whole-genome sequencing: addressing the microbiological, epidemiological, and bioinformatic challenges. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00144.
 
Nwanosike, H., Chung, T., Xiaoli, L., Condello, M., Dudley, E. G., Kovac, J.* 2019. Whole-genome sequences of Escherichia coli isolates from cocoa beans imported from Bolivia. Microbiology Resource Announcements, doi:10.1128/MRA.01516-18. 

2018

Miller, R. A., Jian, J., Beno, S. M., Wiedmann, M., Kovac, J.*. 2018. Intraclade variability in toxin production and cytotoxicity of Bacillus cereus group type strains and dairy-associated isolates. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi: 10.1128/AEM.02479-17.

Smole Mozina, S., Klancnik, A., Kovac, J., Jersek, B., Bucar, F. 2018. Antimicrobial natural products against Campylobacter. In Merillon, J. M., Riviere, C. (Eds). Natural Antimicrobial Agents. Sustainable Development and Biodiversity, vol. 19., Springer, Cham, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-67045-4_1.

2017

Goodman, L. B., Lawton, M. R., Franklin-Guild, R. J., Anderson, R. R., Schaan, L., Thachil, A. J., Wiedmann, M., Miller, C. B., Alcaine, S. D.*, Kovac, J.*. 2017. Lactococcus petauri sp. nov. is a new species isolated from an abscess of a sugar glider. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, doi:10.1099/ijsem.0.002303.

Carroll, L. M., Kovac, J.*, Miller, R. A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Rapid, high-throughput identification of anthrax-causing and emetic Bacillus cereus group genome assemblies using BTyper, a computational tool for virulence-based classification of Bacillus cereus group isolates using nucleotide sequencing data. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi:10.1128/AEM.01096-17

Weller, D., Kovac, J., Roof, S., Kent, D, Tokman, J., Kowalcyk, B., Oryang, D., Ivanek, R., Aceituno, A., Sroka, C., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Survival of Escherichia coli on lettuce under field conditions encountered in the Northeastern United States. Journal of Food Protection, 80(7), 1214-1221.

Weller, D. L., Kovac, J., Kent, D. J., Roof, S., Tokman, J. I., Mudrak, E., Kowalcyk, B., Oryang, D., Aceituno, A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Escherichia coli transfer from simulated wildlife feces to lettuce during foliar irrigation: A field study in the Northeastern United States. Food Microbiology, 68: 24-33.

Kovac, J., den Bakker, H., Carroll, L. M., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Precision food safety: a systems approach to food safety facilitated by genomics tools. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry. In Press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trac.2017.06.001

Kovac, J., Stessl., B., Cadez, N., Gruntar, I., Cimerman, M., Stingl, K., Lusicky, M., Ocepek, M., Wagner, M., Smole Mozina, S. 2017. Population structure and attribution of human clinical Campylobacter jejuni isolates from central Europe to livestock and environmental sources. Zoonoses and Public Health, doi: 10.1111/zph.12366

Liao, J., Wiedmann, M., Kovac, J*. 2017. Genetic stability and evolution of sigB allele used for Listeria sensu stricto subtyping and phylogenetic inference. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi:10.1128/AEM.00306-17.

Kovac, J., Cummings, K. J., Rodriguez-Rivera, L. D., Carroll, L. M., Thachil, A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Temporal genomic phylogeny reconstruction indicates a geospatial transmission path of Salmonella Cerro in the United States and a clade-specific loss of hydrogen sulfide production. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00737.

2016

Miller, A. R., Beno, S. M., Kent, D. J., Carroll, L. M., Martin, N. H., Boor, K. J., Kovac, J*. 2016. Bacillus wiedmannii sp. nov. is a new psychrotolerant and cytotoxic Bacillus cereus group species isolated from dairy foods and environments in the USA. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Accepted for publication on Aug 12, doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.001421.

Kovac, J., Miller, R. A., Carroll, L. M., Kent, D. J., Jian, J., Beno, S. M., Wiedmann, M. 2016. Production of hemolysin BL by Bacillus cereus group isolates of dairy origin is associated with whole-genome phylogenetic clade. BMC Genomics, 17:581, doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2883-z.

Kovac, J., Cadez, N., Stessl, B., Stingl, K., Gruntar, I., Ocepek, M., Trkov, M., Wagner, M. and Mozina, S.S., 2015. High genetic similarity of ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter jejuni in central Europe. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6:1169, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01169.

2015

Kovac, J., Simunovic, K., Wu, Z., Klancnik, A., Bucar, F., Zhang, Q. and Mozina, S.S., 2015. Antibiotic resistance modulation and modes of action of (-)-α-pinene in Campylobacter jejuni. PLoS One, 10(4):e0122871, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122871.

Nagy, B., Szmolka, A., Mozina, S.S., Kovac, J., Strauss, A., Schlager, S., Beutlich, J., Appel, B., Lusicky, M., Aprikian, P. and Pászti, J., 2015. Virulence and antimicrobial resistance determinants of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) and of multidrug-resistant E. coli from foods of animal origin illegally imported to the EU by flight passengers. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 209:52-9, doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2015.06.026.

Before 2015

Videnska, P., Rahman, M.M., Faldynova, M., Babak, V., Matulova, M.E., Prukner-Radovcic, E., Krizek, I., Smole-Mozina, S., Kovac, J., Szmolka, A. and Nagy, B., 2014. Characterization of egg laying hen and broiler fecal microbiota in poultry farms in Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. PLoS One, 9(10):e110076, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110076.

Kovac, J., Gavaric, N., Bucar, F. and Smole Mozina, S., 2014. Antimicrobial and Resistance Modulatory Activity of Alpinia katsumadai Seed Phenolic Extract, Essential Oil and Post-Distillation Extract. Food Technology and Biotechnology, 52(2), 248-254.

Janez, N., Kokosin, A., Zaletel, E., Vranac, T., Kovac, J., Vuckovic, D., Mocina, S.S., Serbec, V., Zhang, Q., Accetto, T. and Podgornik, A., 2014. Identification and characterisation of new Campylobacter group III phages of animal origin. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 359(1), 64-71.

Kovac, J., Cadez, N., Lusicky, M., Nielsen, E.M., Ocepek, M., Raspor, P. and Mozina, S.S., 2014. The evidence for clonal spreading of quinolone resistance with a particular clonal complex of Campylobacter jejuni. Epidemiology and Infection, 142(12), 2595-2603.

Klancnik, A., Gröblacher, B., Kovac, J., Bucar, F. and Mozina, S.S., 2012. Anti-Campylobacter and resistance-modifying activity of Alpinia katsumadai seed extracts. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 113(5),1249-1262


Courses

FD SC 409 - Laboratory in Food Microbiology (Fall semester)

FDSC 497 - Foodborne Pathogen Genomic Epidemiology (Spring semester)

FDSC/INTAG 460 - Food Production in Italy (Spring break; study abroad)

FDSC 496 - Independent Studies

Research Interests

Food Safety Researchers

Precision food safety supported by (meta)genomics. Transmission and evolution of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in the food supply chain. Characterization of virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance determinants in foodborne pathogens. Focus on Campylobacter, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus group.

Food Microbiology