Isaac Barash was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. He earned his M.Sc. degree in plant protection from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC-Davis. After a brief stint in medical mycology at the Department of Medical Microbiology at UCLA, he returned to Israel in 1967 and joined the Department of Botany at Tel-Aviv University, where he has remained throughout his career. From 1980-1984 he served as head of the department, and in 1987, he was asked by the director of the Agricultural Research Organization, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, to chair the Department of Plant Pathology. Dr. Barash accepted this position while still maintaining his professorship and teaching obligations at Tel-Aviv University. After 5 years, he left the chair position, but was granted a “member for life” in the department. In 1995, he was appointed as dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel-Aviv University following election by the faculty.
Dr. Barash has spent his career doing research and teaching in the area of physiological and biochemical plant pathology. He has focused his work on the characterization of the various virulence determinants produced by plant pathogenic fungi and bacteria. In his early work, he made an important contribution to the understanding of the release of pectic enzymes during spore germination and the role of the various types of these enzymes on the mode of soft rot production in citrus. He was the first to demonstrate the cell-surface localization of endopolygalacturonase in fungal spores. His work on inhibitors of pectic enzymes on which a patent was registered, as well as the ecology and epidemiology of the sour rot pathogen, Geotrichum citri-aurantii, was a major contribution to the development of control measures in citrus packing houses. Dr. Barash has also devoted a significant amount of time to research on phytotoxins produced by pathogenic fungi. Most noteworthy are his studies on characterization of the glycopeptide responsible for the mal-secco disease symptoms in citrus.
During recent years, Dr. Barash’s research has been focused on molecular genetic aspects of plant-microbe interactions. In collaboration with Dr. S. Manulis, he investigated the role of plasmid- borne genes in the pathogenicity of Erwinia herbicola pv. gypsophilae and characterized the genes conferring IAA and cytokinin production. This system is unparalleled with any of the previously known gall-forming bacteria since hrp genes present on the pathogenicity plasmid were proved mandatory for gall elicitation.
He has served on organizing committees of various international meetings and has recently been elected as the vice-president of the International Mycology meeting to be held in 1998 in Jerusalem.