Roger A. C. Jones, born in Cambridge, England, in 1945, earned a B.Sc. degree in botany at Cambridge University (1966) and a Ph.D. degree in plant virology at St. Andrews University (1971) while working at the Scottish Crops Research Institute. He undertook post-doctoral research on potato viruses in the Virology Department, Birmingham University, England (1969–1973) and the Pathology Department, International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru (1973–1975). He became coordinator in virology at CIP (1975–1978), where he studied potato virus disease problems in developing countries and described new viruses of other Andean tuber and root crops and Andean solanaceous crops. Subsequently, he became head of virology at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) Plant Pathology Laboratory, Harpenden, England (1979–1985). At MAFF, he completed research on viruses of Andean root and tuber crops and pepino and studied viruses of importance to seed potato production in the United Kingdom. In 1986, Jones joined the Plant Pathology Group, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia (DAFWA) to work on epidemiology and control of economically important virus diseases in diverse crops (grains, vegetables, pasture). He became principal plant virologist for Western Australia (1990); leader, Crop Disease Program, Co-operative Research Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (1992–1999)’ section manager, Plant Pathology, DAFWA (2000–2003); adjunct professor at both Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia (UWA) (2004–2010); and professor of plant virology at UWA (2010–present).
Jones successfully uses basic and applied research to address real world problems and is recognized internationally for his contributions, especially those that address practical aspects of virus diseases of significance to global agriculture. His research has involved diverse pathosystems, including viruses of cereals, oilseeds, grain and pasture legumes, root and tuber crops, vegetables, weeds, and native plants. His research included discovering and describing new viruses, epidemiology, ecology, spatio-temporal analyses of epidemics, transmission by vectors and seed, control measures, predictive modeling, devising detection procedures, and studies on virus etiology, phylogeny, and emergence/re-emergence of plant viruses.
Jones’ research in Australia provided critical understanding of epidemiological components of diverse virus pathosystems operating under the vagaries of Mediterranean-type climatic conditions. These included viruses of annual arable crops, such as Bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV) and Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) in lupins; Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), Cereal yellow dwarf virus (CYDV), and Wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) in cereals; and Beet western yellows virus and Turnip mosaic virus in canola. His research also included viruses of dryland annual and irrigated perennial pasture legumes and grasses, especially Subterranean clover mottle virus (SCMoV), White clover mosaic virus, and Alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV). His studies emphasized (i) the importance of seed transmission in annual hosts for virus survival during the dry summer period in the absence of irrigation, and (ii) the critical roles in development of epidemics played by proximity to virus inoculum sources (external and internal) and weather conditions favoring buildup of vectors before annual crop or pasture plants germinate. This research provided important new understanding of the epidemiological components of diverse plant virus pathosystems (Tomato spotted wilt virus [TSWV] in vegetables, Zucchini yellow mosaic virus in cucurbits, Carrot virus Y in carrots, and lettuce big-vein viruses in lettuce) operating in irrigated vegetable, potato, and cucurbit crops growing under Mediterranean, subtropical, and tropical climatic conditions. He conducted large-scale surveys quantifying virus incidence in vegetable, cucurbit, grain legume, oilseed and cereal crops, and legume pastures, which were complemented by large-scale field experiments to quantify virus-induced losses in crop yield and quality. Most noteworthy field studies included lupins infected with CMV and BYMV and others in pasture swards infected with SCMoV, WSMV, CMV, BYMV, and AMV involving grazing animals, simulated grazing, and mowing treatments. His pasture studies were the first to emphasize the critical effect of virus infection in one plant species on the species balance in mixed species swards. Combining survey with yield loss data provided a clear picture of the economic importance of each pathosystem.
Through epidemiological studies, field experimentation, and/or theoretical insights, Jones has provided critical new understanding of how different types of virus control measures (host resistance, phytosanitary, cultural, chemical, biological) operate and can be combined within effective integrated virus disease management (IVDM) approaches. His IVDM ideas were widely adopted globally. With modelers, Jones developed the first effective forecasting models for virus epidemics that incorporate weather variables and automated weather data retrieval.
Jones’ research involving identifying resistance-breaking strains (e.g., Potato virus X) or selecting them from wild-type strains (e.g., TSWV), finding and characterizing new virus resistances in diverse crops, and addressing challenges faced by plant breeders in dealing with strain-specific virus resistance was widely appreciated internationally. He provided important new understanding of viruses of Andean tuber (especially potato), root, and other crops. He was the first to identify Pepino mosaic virus, which later caused serious problems in tomato worldwide. Other noteworthy research includes devising new or improved procedures for large-scale virus detection and providing important new understanding of the biological properties and the phylogeny of introduced and indigenous viruses in Australia.
Jones has published 195 refereed research papers and 35 international reviews or refereed book chapters on diverse aspects of plant virology, examples include the first comprehensive review on plant viruses and climate change, a highly cited review on virus emergence, and several highly cited reviews on virus control measures. Total citations to March 2014 are 5,260. In Peru, the United Kingdom, and Australia, he has acted as mentor for many young plant virologists, and supervised or cosupervised to completion twelve Ph.D., eight M.Sc., and many Honors students. He organized or co-organized 10 national and international scientific conferences in the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Peru, and Germany, and coedited a book and three special epidemiology issues of Virus Research.
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