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Sep 20
MPMI Editorial Board Awards Best Student Papers for 2021

To recognize the work o​f early-career scientists, the MPMI Editorial Board has implemented a new award series to honor the best papers published by student first authors. For 2021, the first place award goes to Kyungyong Seong for his paper "Computational Structural Genomics Unravels Common Folds and Novel Families in the Secretome of Fungal Phytopathogen Magnaporthe oryzae." Jeanne Harris, MPMI editor-in-chief writes, "The approach using structure modeling to identify effector families by their folded shape, rather than amino acid sequence, opens up a world of possibilities, not only in identifying new effectors, but also in understanding the evolution of effector families and functions, and, in the future, as a tool in immune receptor engineering. In addition, the paper was clearly and logically written, with implications and future uses of this approach clearly visualized and explained." Kyungyong will present his work in the What's New in MPMI Virtual Seminar Series in November. You can also learn more about Kyungyong and his work below.

The second place award for the top graduate student-authored MPMI paper goes to Zi-Hui Huang for the paper "A Small Cysteine-Rich Phytotoxic Protein of Phytophthora capsici Functions as Both Plant Defense Elicitor and Virulence Factor."

The third place award goes to Takemasa Kawaguchi for the paper "AKSF1 Isolated from the Rice-Virulent Strain Acidovorax avenae K1 Is a Novel Effector That Suppresses PAMP-Triggered Immunity in Rice."​

Name: Kyungyong Seong

Current Position: A third-year graduate student in the Ksenia Krasileva Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

Education: B.S. degree in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Brief Bio: I started my study in plant immunity as an undergraduate student in Dr. Brian Staskawicz's lab at the University of California, Berkeley. My first project involved analyzing intracellular immune receptors (NLRs) across wild tomato species collected from South America. I was soon absorbed in exploring the complexity of plant genomes and decoding the history of plant survival against pathogens. After finishing my B.S. degree, I continued my research for the next three years in Dr. Staskawicz's lab in the Innovative Genomics Institute. I was influenced every day by great scientists with passion and diligence in their work and by the MPMI community striving to improve plant health. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to join the community as a genomics scientist to make contributions to plant pathology.

I started my Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley with my current supervisor, Dr. Ksenia Krasileva. We share the same viewpoint that interdisciplinary novel techniques could help elucidate diverse aspects of the plant–pathogen interaction. In our first lab meeting, I presented three ambitious goals I wanted to pursue in alignment with this vision: 1) elucidating effector evolution based on predicted structures; 2) engineering NLRs for novel recognition specificity against any effector targets; and 3) computationally predicting the interaction between effectors and their host targets. The computational structural genomics on the blast pathogen published in MPMI, together with the recently preprinted comparative study, completes the first chapter of my Ph.D. journey. I am happy to share the work with the community and am already excited for the new challenges I will soon encounter in protein design.

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