Christopher C. Mundt
Dr. Christopher C. Mundt was born in New Jersey on 30 March 1957. He received his B.S. in plant science with honors from Cornell University in 1979. In 1981, he completed his M.S. in plant pathology at Iowa State University, and in 1985, a Ph.D. in plant pathology at North Carolina State University. Dr. Mundt joined the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University in 1985 and has risen through the ranks to professor in 1997. Since 1992, he has also been a visiting scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), The Philippines, where he spends several weeks each year doing collaborative research with projects throughout Southeast Asia.
During his career, Dr. Mundt has developed an international reputation for his contributions to the understanding of genetics and host plant resistance. His research interests focus on the quantitative analysis of the effects of host plant resistance on the epidemiology of plant disease and the population genetics of plant pathogens. He is a world leader in experimentation to determine the ecological and evolutionary effects of crop mixtures on plant– pathogen interactions.
Dr. Mundt has shown how pathogens affect the evolution of the host and how the host influences the evolution of the pathogen. Moreover, he has shown how various management strategies, such as altering the diversity of the host population over either small or large scales, can affect disease dynamics and lead to improved disease control. He has provided a firm scientific foundation to achievement of disease control through use of cultivar mixtures, including intercropping, multilines, etc. From a methodological perspective, he has shown how to study co-evolution in a systematic and controlled manner. From a basic research perspective, he has demonstrated the complicated functional relationships that exist between the pathogen and host populations. From an applied perspective, he has shown how mixtures can be best used for disease control.
Most recently this work has been applied in a cooperative project with the IRRI (with cooperators Dr. Tom Mew and Dr. Hei Leung) in China. The resultant increase in rice yields due to interplanting with diverse cultivars has been an astounding success and is being rapidly adapted. Dr. Mundt and his student, Dr. Karen Garrett, also worked cooperatively with Dr. Rebecca Nelson at the International Potato Center in Peru and Ecuador to investigate the relative importance of various components of disease management for late blight under a range of conditions in studies in those countries as well as in Oregon. This research has brought insights as to how cultivar mixtures may effect late blight occurrence.
Dr. Mundt has made an important contribution to international agriculture through his work with the APS Office of International Programs. While serving on that board, he authored a resolution on world population and hunger that was adopted by APS in 1996. His editorial in Phytopathology News in 1992 made a key contribution to convincing plant pathologists of the need to address world population growth to prevent hunger. He was an invited speaker in the APS symposium on population and world hunger in 1999. Dr. Mundt has been author or co-author of 45 referred journal papers and of 10 book chapters or reviews. He has been an invited speaker at many national and international meetings as well as asked to help organize sessions for these meetings. His research is funded by numerous sources that demonstrate his ability to attract funding from diverse agencies such as the Oregon Wheat Commission, NSF, and the USDA-NRI program. This speaks for the excellent balance between basic and applied research that he has developed in his program. Practical applications of his research by Oregon wheat growers have resulted in economic gains due to increased yields that result from reduction of disease without chemical applications. It is expected that his research at IRRI will similarly result in increased production as the result of better disease management in rice.
Recognition of the significance of his research is shown by the invitation to author a chapter for Annual Review of Phytopathology, to review models from plant pathology on the movement and fate of new genotypes of microorganisms in the environment. Another was his selection by IRRI as the international scientist best able to assist in identification, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge on gene deployment strategies against rice blast disease. Dr. Mundt has a reputation as an outstanding teacher and excellent mentor. He has made important contributions to the training of graduate students and postdoctoral scientists both at Oregon State University and at IRRI. He received the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences International Service award in 1997.