James C. Correll was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania. He obtained a B.S. degree in plant science from The Pennsylvania State University in 1980 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from the University of California-Berkeley in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Upon graduation, he served as a post-doctoral research associate at Kansas State University for 1 year and at the University of California-Berkeley for 2 years before joining the faculty as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas in 1989. Correll was granted tenure with promotion to associate professor in 1993 and to full professor in 1998 at the University of Arkansas.
Correll has made a number of major contributions in the areas of basic and applied research. Although these contributions are evident by his list of publications and more than $12M in awarded grant funding, here are highlights of some of his more significant contributions. Some of Correll’s more significant accomplishments include his earlier pioneering work on vegetative compatibility with fungal plant pathogens and on population biology. Correll and colleagues were the first to use nitrate nonutilizing mutants, a robust approach to vegetative compatibility analysis, to examine population diversity of pathogenic and nonpathogenic fungi (1986). In addition, he and colleagues published a comprehensive approach to examine vegetative compatibility in various forma speciales of Fusarium oxysporum (1987). This publication has been widely adopted and has been cited more than 550 times since publication. Moreover, this approach to examine diversity has served as a genetic foundation for many studies on the molecular diversity in plant-pathogenic fungal populations. Subsequently, Correll has utilized this approach to examine genetic diversity in a wide range of fungi, including other Fusarium species, Verticillium species, Colletotrichum species, and Magnaporthe oryzae.
Correll has also been involved in extensive research on the rice blast pathogen, Magnaporthe oryzae. This work, in cooperation with colleagues, has involved the examination of the genetic, molecular, and virulence diversity of this globally important pathogen, as well as the documentation of virulence evolution by tracking changes in the avirulence gene AVR-Pita and its interaction with the Pi-ta resistance gene in rice. His research in the rice community led to he and his colleagues being awarded the first plant Coordinated Agriculture Project (CAP) granted by the USDA/CSREES, entitled “A coordinated research, education, and extension project for the application of genomic discoveries to improve rice in the United States,” whereby he served as the project director. This $5M award led to an outline of how CAP projects were structured, and the template for RiceCAP still serves as a model for subsequently funded CAP efforts. The research accomplishments of RiceCAP were broad, leading to more than 60 refereed publications on disease screening, QTL analysis, breeding efforts to improve sheath blight resistance, and milling quality in commercial rice in the United States. In addition, Correll and colleagues were recently received a $2.45M award, entitled “Durable rice blast resistance through genomic analysis of the host-pathogen interaction” by the United Kingdom Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Correll is considered a leading authority on spinach diseases worldwide and has been instrumental in documenting the evolution of races of the spinach downy mildew pathogen, the most important disease of spinach worldwide. He has described races 4 to 14 of the 14 known races of the pathogen, has described the genetics of resistance to the pathogen, and was the first to develop molecular markers linked to major genes for resistance. These efforts lead to his appointment on the International Working Group on Peronospora, based in the Netherlands, where the majority of spinach breeding is conducted. His molecular markers have been widely adopted by the spinach industry and most spinach-breeding programs are using these in their marker-assisted breeding programs.
Correll recently received an $827,745 federal grant entitled “Managing downy mildew of spinach: A genomics-based approach to the host and pathogen,” in collaboration with the University of California-Davis, the University of Tennessee, and Washington State University for research to develop lines resistant to downy mildew. The project, led by Correll, will lead to disease-resistant spinach hybrids, advance our understanding of the evolution of races, develop methods to detect seed contamination, and advance management practices. The project was one of only 14 Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grants awarded in 2012.
Correll has been a tireless volunteer for numerous philanthropic international work assignments with Winrock International and others, where his expertise in integrated pest management has had significant impact on the disease management of various crops and also on the incomes and the quality of life of people in many developing nations. One particular example is with his involvement with the management of club root disease of crucifers in Nepal, which has had a devastating impact on production and livelihoods in numerous regions of Nepal due to severe outbreaks of this disease in recent years. His efforts have included an IPM approach to monitor soil nutrition, adjust soil pHs, identify sources of lime, establish lime-transportation routes, implement crop rotation, identify club root-tolerant high-value hybrids, and establish a unique fungicide program. Although he has not sought these out, he has been given several Presidential Volunteer Service Awards for his efforts.
James Correll has served APS and the discipline of plant pathology in a number of different capacities over the past 30 years. Foremost, he has served twice as a senior editor of Plant Disease and Phytopathology and as an associate editor of Plant Disease and Phytopathology. In addition, he has served as an editor of Mycologia and is currently serving as editor-in-chief of Crop Protection and as a senior editor of Plant Disease. Correll has also served APS on the Committee for Soilborne Diseases and other standing committees and has organized and participated in a numerous APS symposia. The contributions that Correll has made over the years, in many facets of plant pathology, are an accurate reflection of his dedication to the discipline.