Dennis Gross was born in Whittemore, IA, and received his early training at Iowa State University. Later, he transferred to UC-Davis where he obtained his Ph.D. in plant pathology. After serving a 4-year period at the University of Nebraska, he moved to Washington State University, where he has risen through the professorial ranks to his position today as professor of plant pathology.
Dennis is recognized internationally for his research program, both among plant pathologists and in a wider community of microbiologists. He has consistently made important discoveries that have significantly influenced our views of microbiological processes, especially those affecting secondary metabolite production, survival, and plant interaction. He is particularly well-known for his work on the peptide toxins produced by pseudomonads, defining a major role for such phytotoxins in phytopathogenesis. His work on syringomycin and syringopeptin production by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae has yielded fundamental information on their mode of action, genetic organization, biosynthesis, regulation, export, and contribution to disease development.
During the 1980s, Dennis did pioneering work to define the role of bacterial ice nucleation in frost injury to deciduous fruit trees, especially pome and stone fruit trees. His work for the first time established the occurrence of an intrinsic, nonbacterial ice nucleus in wood. Furthermore, he has documented the role of ice nucleation in cold hardiness and explained why control of ice nucleation active bacteria does not translate into significant frost protection of fruit trees.
Dennis has also significantly contributed to our understanding of antimicrobial compounds, e.g., bacteriocins produced by corynebacteria and rhizobia, siderophores produced by Pseudomonas, and detection as well as biological control of several plant pathogens. Thus, his research contributions range from applied and basic aspects of plant pathology to bacterial physiology to molecular genetics.
Dr. Gross has also served APS well having recently completed a 3-year term as editor-in-chief of Phytopathology after previously serving 3 years as senior editor. During his term, Dennis revamped the appearance of the journal with a more modern look, streamlined the handling of manuscripts speeding the review process, began publishing mini-reviews, established supplemental issues containing nonrefereed abstracts from APS meetings, and switched to desktop publishing of the journal at APS headquarters.