John Herrick Andrews was born in Montréal and raised in rural southern Québec, Canada. Encouraged by a high school science teacher, he enrolled at MacDonald College of McGill University and earned a B.Sc. (Agr.) degree in 1967. As an undergraduate, he took an introductory course in plant pathology taught by W. E. Sackston and became fascinated with diseases of plants. Aspirations to save the magnificent American elm led him to the University of Maine to do M.S. research on Dutch elm disease with R. J. Campana and R. C. McCrum. He then went west to study plant virology with Thomas Shalla at the University of California-Davis and received awards for his 1973 Ph.D. cytological study of pinwheel inclusions induced by Tobacco etch virus. He subsequently obtained a postdoctoral fellowship to do research with David Ingram at Cambridge University on the downy mildew infection process. Returning to Canada as a postdoc in the Botany Department at the University of British Columbia, he pursued his fascination with diseases of seaweeds, an idea that had been in his mind since taking a course in marine phycology at Maine years earlier. In that era, essentially nothing was known of aquatic pathology, and Andrews was probably the only plant pathologist in the world who donned scuba gear to do his field work!
In 1976, Andrews joined the faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he developed two concurrent research programs. One continued his interest in plant disease in oceans and lakes and focused on the pathology of the submerged aquatic weed Eurasian watermilfoil; the other was on the microbial ecology of the phyllosphere. Andrews published 13 papers and reviews on disease in aquatic systems, but it was his groundbreaking work on fungal ecology and the microbial ecology of the phyllosphere that changed the way we view fungi as organisms and the leaf surface and its inhabitants. The microbial ecology phase of his program is documented in 82 publications. He views microbial ecology through the lens of plant and animal ecology and his 1991 Springer textbook, Comparative Ecology of Microorganisms and Macroorganisms, remains unique in the field. A second edition is in progress.
When Andrews launched his career, most work on the “ecology” of fungi on leaves was purely descriptive. He was a pioneer among plant pathologists in applying ecological theory and quantitative approaches to understand the processes of immigration, emigration, multiplication, and death that influence the size of epiphytic microbial populations. With his colleagues R. F. Harris and D. I. Rouse, Andrews gave the famous theory of r- and K-selection (developed originally for macroorganisms), a mechanistic and microbial perspective. In collaboration with his doctoral student L. L. Kinkel and statistician E. V. Nordheim, Andrews showed that fungal species dynamics on leaves follow much the same pattern as do immigration and extinction events of plant and animal species on oceanic islands (theory of island biogeography). With mathematician Tony Ives and others, he used concepts of metapopulation biology to explain the roles of dispersal and density dependence on microbial population dynamics on leaf islands. More recently, he has visualized bacteria and fungi as being modular in design and biology, analogous to sessile clonal organisms, such as benthic invertebrates. To understand the basic principles of how communities form, he and Harris are now studying the assembly of primordial communities of progenotes, representing the inception of all of ecology. These and other insights have stimulated the thinking and research of plant pathologists and have attracted the attention of the larger scientific community to plant pathology.
Many of Andrews’ fundamental advances in microbial ecology came about because of a much more applied charge he was given upon arriving at Madison: to develop a teaching and research program in integrated pest management. Andrews chose the economically important disease apple scab as a model system. His group’s work in the late 1970s and 1980s on fungal antagonists of Venturia inaequalis resulted in numerous publications, still cited today, and a patent on the use of antagonists for biological control.
Over the past 15 years, the Andrews laboratory has been a leader in advanced microscopy and image analysis, such as fluorescence in situ hybridization, to visualize the fungal colonization process under natural conditions. Their work on Aureobasidium pullalans, a predominant yeastlike inhabitant of apple leaves, indicates not only that the leaf habitat is highly variable but that plants may facilitate epiphytic colonization along preferential routes, such as veinal pathways. These findings provide interesting basic insight on how microbes colonize a heterogeneous landscape and on important ramifications for biological control, where success depends on the relative locations of pathogens and antagonists on the phylloplane.
In addition to his internationally recognized research, Andrews has played a major teaching role in nine courses, several of which he created. These range from pest management, to ethics, to environmental law. This is a testament to his breadth of knowledge and dedication to educating future scientists, inside and outside of plant pathology. His creative approach to diverse scientific topics has led to frequent speaking invitations in the United States and 10 other countries.
Andrews has been committed to service for his university and profession. He has served on numerous influential committees at the University of Wisconsin. From 1998 to 2004, he was chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and currently is the director of the Officer Education Program. Off-campus, he has served on numerous grant review panels and editorial boards. In APS, Andrews was a founding member of the Phyllosphere Ecology Committee and has chaired or served as a member of multiple other committees. In 2002, he was elected to APS Council and, in 2005–2006, served as APS president, a role he approached with the same level of energy, integrity, and creativity that he has always devoted to research.
For his imaginative research, dedicated teaching that has spanned basic ecology to integrated pest management, extraordinary service to the discipline of plant pathology, and visionary leadership, Andrews is highly deserving of the APS Fellow Award.
Get ALL the Latest Updates for CHANGING LANDSCAPES OF PLANT PATHOLOGY. Follow APS!