Margaret E. Daub
Margaret E. Daub was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1952, but moved with her family to the United States at an early age. She received a B.A. in biology, with honors, from the College of Wooster, Wooster, OH in 1974. She completed the Ph.D. degree in plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin under the direction of D. J. Hagedorn in 1979, where she worked on bacterial blight of bean. Upon completion of her Ph.D., Dr. Daub worked as a postdoctoral researcher with P. Carlson at Michigan State University. It was here that she began to make her many significant contributions to science on the role of the phototoxin cercosporin in plant disease, and on the mechanisms by which the toxin-producing Cercospora spp. resist toxicity.
Dr. Daub joined the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University as an assistant professor in 1983, and rose through the ranks to professor in 1993. Currently, in addition to maintaining her research and other professional commitments, she is serving as interim head of the botany department at NCSU.
Dr. Daub has consistently been in the forefront of physiological and molecular research on Cercospora spp. and, with a primary focus on resistance to photosensitizing fungal toxins, her exciting findings reach beyond our discipline. The phototoxin cercosporin is produced by many Cercospora spp. and appears to play a critical role in the ability of these fungi to parasitize plants. Dr. Daub was the first researcher to uncover evidence that photosensitizing toxins are involved in plant disease, and that the production of singlet oxygen by these toxins is responsible for host plant cell death. Using ESR spectroscopy and fatty acid analysis she determined the mechanism of action of cercosporin on plant cell membranes. She has documented a correlation between the ability of fungi to resist cercosporin and their production of similar toxins and, through comprehensive research studies, shown that previously described defense mechanisms against active oxygen toxicity in other organisms differ from those in Cercospora spp.
Through effective integration of cellular, chemical, and microbiological techniques, Dr. Daub showed that Cercospora resistance to cercosporin is strongly correlated with chemical reduction of the cercosporin molecule. Although C. nicotianae is difficult to manipulate in genetic studies, Dr. Daub’s lab produced cercosporin- sensitive mutants and used them to isolate genes involved in resistance. This genetic work led to two unanticipated discoveries of fundamental importance. First, one of the genes involved in resistance was a gene in a previously undescribed pathway for vitamin B6 synthesis. This finding demonstrated that eukaryotes, archaebacteria, and some eubacteria synthesize vitamin B6 by a pathway distinct from the well-characterized pathway in Escherichia coli. Second, this pivotal discovery showed vitamin B6 to be a highly efficient quencher of singlet oxygen, a fact previously unrecognized despite extensive surveys of singlet oxygen quenchers. This finding has important implications for human and animal as well as plant health. Presently, Dr. Daub is interfacing her unique discoveries on the molecular biology and genetics of fungal active oxygen resistance with a number of scientists from diverse disciplines.
Dr. Daub also has had an active research program in the more applied field of crop improvement, using varied technologies to improve disease resistance in crop plants. She explored the utility of somaclonal variation to enhance resistance of high-quality tobacco to Granville wilt, and used protoplast fusion technology to transfer Tobacco mosaic virus and root knot nematode resistance from one Nicotiana spp. to another. She also succeeded in producing transgenic lines of tobacco and chrysanthemum resistant to Tomato spotted wilt virus by the introduction of the virus coat protein gene. Professor Daub has done pioneering work in the generation of transformation systems for economically important floral crops such as chrysanthemum and New Guinea impatiens. This work has led to development of a unique chrysanthemum transformation protocol that can be used effectively for multiple cultivars.
Dr. Daub excels in the classroom at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, consistently being rated as a superb instructor. She currently teaches a graduate course on fungi and their interactions with plants and coteaches Fungal Genetics and Physiology, a course cross-listed in four departments. Dr. Daub works closely in mentoring students and has served as graduate advisor for 12 students. She served as coprincipal investigator and codirector of a USDA National Needs Fellowship on Molecular Crop Protection. She is also a participant in a USDA/DOE/USDA training grant centered on epigenetic events and disease resistance in transgenic plants.
In addition to her scholarly research and educational contributions, Dr. Daub has contributed extensively through her editorial appointments, and by her membership and leadership in local and national committees and panels. She has served APS as associate editor, senior editor, and editor-in-chief of Phytopathology, as well as chair of the APS Publications Board and a member of APS Council. Dr. Daub has served on grants panels for the NSF cell biology program, and served as both a member and panel manager (1998 to 1999) of the USDA-NRI Plant Pathology Panel. She also has worked with CSREES in reviewing a number of plant pathology departments and other research units.
Dr. Daub has been consistently available to high school, junior high, and grade school students interested in conducting research projects in her laboratory. In addition, she has organized and participated in workshops and presentations at local schools to introduce young people to the disciplines of plant pathology, microbiology, and botany.
The significance and quality of Dr. Daub’s research and overall contributions are widely recognized throughout the scientific community. In 1991 she received the APS Ciba-Geigy Award in recognition of her outstanding research. She has been an invited speaker at symposia organized by diverse scientific societies, including the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Photobiology, the Society for In Vitro Biology, as well as APS and other agricultural societies. She participated in the national ESCOP/ACOP leadership course in 1994 to 1995. Dr. Daub was a founding member of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at NCSU and remains active in campus honor societies.