Linda S. Thomashow
Linda S. Thomashow was born in Norwood, MA. She received her B.S. degree in microbiology at the University of Massachusetts in 1968, and Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1979. She held postdoctoral appointments before joining the U.S. Department Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) at Pullman in 1985. Currently, she is a research geneticist with the Root Disease and Biological Control Research Unit.
Dr. Thomashow’s early work with ARS demonstrated that phenazine-1-carboxylic acid (PCA) is the primary determinant by which Pseudomonas fluorescens strain 2-79 suppresses take-all of wheat caused by Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici. This work provided the first unambiguous evidence that antibiotics play a role both in biological control and the ecology of soil microorganisms. She then demonstrated that synthesis of 2,4- diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG) is the primary determinant by which other pseudomonad strains suppress take-all in the rhizosphere. Based on the biochemistry of PCA and DAPG synthesis, she and her students and postdoctoral associates cloned, sequenced, and characterized the biosynthetic genes for both compounds and produced transgenic strains with ability to synthesize both of them with no loss of rhizosphere competence. She has now begun to unravel the genetic and biochemical mechanisms that contribute to the rhizosphere competence of DAPG producers responsible for take-all decline.
Dr. Thomashow shared the Ruth Allen Award from APS in 1997 for pioneering work on biological control of take-all. She served IS-MPMI as a member of the advisory board and as treasurer, and currently represents IS-MPMI to AAAS. She served on the Editorial Board and as editor of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
The pioneering work of Dr. Thomashow on the biological control of soilborne pathogens has led to a flurry of investigations worldwide. Because of her work, the molecular biology and molecular ecology of take-all decline ranks among the scientific classics in soil microbiology.