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Sep 20
InterStellar: Interview with 2022 APS Ruth Allen Award Recipient Dr. Kiran Mysore

Dr. Kiran​​ Mysore (center) is named the 2022 APS Ruth Allen Award recipient, with Dr. Mark Gleason (left) and APS Immediate Past Preside​nt Dr. Amy Charkowski (right).

Dr. Kiran Mysore

At the Plant Health 2022 meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, Dr. Kiran Mysore received the 2022 Ruth Allen Aw​​ard from The American Phytopathological Society. This award honors individuals who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology.​

Q1. What area(s) of molecular plant–microbe interactions do you feel your research has impacted most?

My research has impacted three different areas in molecular plant–microbe interactions:

Nonhost disease resistance: Nonhost disease resistance is believed to be the most durable form of disease resistance. Little is known about the mechanism(s) of nonhost resistance. Based on the survey at the previous IS-MPMI meeting, nonhost resistance was one of the top 10 unanswered questions in MPMI. My laboratory has contributed to this field by identifying several plant genes that play a critical role in nonhost disease resistance using model plants such as Nicotiana benthamiana, Arabidopsis thaliana, and Medicago truncatula.

Agrobacterium–plant interaction: Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation is the most preferred form of plant transformation in both academia and industry. However, several plant species and crop varieties are recalcitrant to transformation. To better understand the Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation, my laboratory has identified and characterized several plant genes that are important for transformation. We have also studied the role of plant defense responses against Agrobacterium and strategies to suppress plant defense responses to enhance transformation.

Symbiosis in legumes: Legume-rhizobia symbiosis (to fix atmospheric nitrogen) and legume-arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis (for uptake of phosphorous) are important for sustainable agriculture. Even though my laboratory doesn't work on symbiosis, we have significantly contributed to understanding symbiosis by providing the tools. We have developed a large collection of transposon (Tnt1) insertion lines in the model legume M. truncatula that has been used all over the world to study legume symbiosis.

Q2. What advice do you have for young scientists aspiring to achieve the level of science that has a major impact?

My advice to young scientists is to look beyond their own research project. New ideas often come when people read manuscripts that are outside of their own research or comfort zone. Another piece of advice to young scientists is to make sure to publish their findings. Some young scientists do good research but fail to publish. This is a waste of tax payers' money, and someone else may waste their valuable time and resources to reinvent the wheel.

Q3. When you were a postdoc, what had the largest influence on your decision to enter your specific research area in your permanent position? Was this a "hot topic" at the time, or did you choose to go in a different direction?

During my postdoc studies, I worked on R gene-mediated disease resistance in tomato. During that time, farmers started to realize that a single R gene-mediated resistance was not durable in the field. For example, the UG99 strain of wheat stem rust was identified during that time and became popular in the media. An R gene that provided resistance against wheat stem rust for more than 30 years was broken down. This motivated me and got me interested in durable disease resistance. Nonhost resistance, which was not well studied at that time, caught my attention, and I decided to work on that in my permanent position. Effector biology was the hot topic during that time, and the field was getting crowded. I chose a different direction to work on nonhost resistance that was not a hot topic at the time.

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