Brian J. Deverall
Brian J. Deverall, born 3 January 1935 in Birkenhead, England, graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, with first class honors in botany in 1957. He also attended Imperial College, University of London, where, in 1960, he was awarded D.I.C. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology. During this period, he worked with R. K. S. Wood, which was the start of his many contributions to elucidating the role of phytoalexins in plant disease resistance.
In 1960, Dr. Deverall was awarded a Harkness Fellowship of the Commonwealth Fund, New York, with the first 12 months spent in the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin. During this period, he initiated work that eventually led to the finding that bean leaves resistant to halo blight caused by Pseudomonas phaseolicola had a higher level of galactolipase than did leaves that were susceptible. During the second year of his Harkness Fellowship, Dr. Deverall moved to the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska, where his investigations on expression and elicitation of resistance to rust fungi in plants were initiated.
In 1962, Dr. Deverall was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Botany and Plant Technology, Imperial College, where he remained until 1970. This was a highly productive period for his research on phytoalexins in collaboration with R. P. Purkayastha, J. A. Bailey, and J. W. Mansfield. Wyerone acid was characterized as a phytoalexin, and critical investigations on the role of phaseollin accumulation in response to fungal and bacterial infections of beans were conducted. He was awarded the Huxley Prize for research achievements by Imperial College in 1971. In 1970, Dr. Deverall was appointed principal scientific officer at the Agricultural Research Council Unit on Systemic Fungicides, Wye College, University of London, a position he held until his appointment to the chair of plant pathology at the University of Sydney in 1973. While at Wye, he continued research on phytoalexins and wrote several reviews on their role in resistance. It was also at this time that Dr. Deverall was cofounder of Physiological Plant Pathology, an international journal for which he was coeditor for the next 10 years.
Dr. Deverall’s move to Australia was to be a real bonus both to The University of Sydney, which acquired an academic with the rare combination of outstanding research skills and excellent teaching abilities, and to Australia, which gained a person with exceptional foresight who would play an important role in determining future directions of plant pathology research in a country in which primary production is so important to the nation’s economy.
During the 25 years since Dr. Deverall has been in Australia, he has published a wealth of research papers, written monographs, and edited books. The theme is expression of resistance and its specific elicitation and systemic activation. He has played a dynamic role in educating young Australian scientists to be highly motivated and productive, has continued to contribute his time and energy into the editing and dissemination of plant pathology literature throughout the world, such as editing the newsletter of the International Society for Plant Pathology, and has set standards for the future of plant pathology research in Australia.