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Lawrence E. Datnoff
Lawrence E. Datnoff was born in Hickory, NC. He obtained his B.S. from the University of Georgia (1976), M.S. from Virginia Tech (1981), and Ph.D. from University of Illinois (1985). Immediately after completing postdoctoral studies with USDA-ARS (1986-1988), he joined the University of Florida (UF) faculty as assistant professor, and was promoted to professor in 1999. He was recruited by the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology at Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2008 and accepted the Department Head position.
Datnoff has conducted high impact research on multiple crops and pathosystems, but he has achieved particular distinction as a pioneer in the use of elemental silicon to improve plant health and suppress plant diseases. He has contributed broadly and instructively to the study of the important relationship between mineral nutrition and host plant resistance. He has published extensively, building the evidence-base on the effects of silicon on disease epidemiology, mechanisms of defense, and integrated disease management. He has played a major role, nationally and internationally, in promoting this quasi-essential element from a mere scientific curiosity to an agronomic and horticultural practice for protecting plants against biotic stresses. Datnoff’s work resulted in original and significant findings in the highly complex relationship between plant nutrition and disease resistance. Equally impressive is his effective, practical utilization of the research findings. Datnoff’s innovations and leadership has resulted in the recognition and use of silicon as a viable means for reducing the impacts of plant diseases, especially in rice and turf. His research and advocacy has prompted substantial interest from private entities and governmental agencies and institutions throughout the world. Datnoff has been invited by international and national agencies, such as the American Association of Plant Food Control Officials and the USDA National Organic Standards Board, to inform them about regulatory policies and guidelines.
Datnoff initiated the concept of integrating silicon applications with fungicides and host resistance for managing diseases in rice and turf. His studies on the effects of silicon rates with rice cultivars of varying resistance to blast and sheath blight established that specific components of host plant resistance that drive an epidemic were being affected. Similar observations have been made for gray leaf spot development in turf. Datnoff’s group was the first to provide evidence that an alternative resistance mechanism, separate from the proposed physical penetration barrier by silicon, may be functioning in rice as evidenced by an amorphous, phenol-like material that appears to empty the cellular contents of fungal hyphae of
, thus impeding further colonization by the pathogen. His group further identified and chemically characterized diterpenoid phytoalexins and demonstrated that these low molecular-weight molecules were increased 2- to 3-fold when plants were treated with silicon. His group also demonstrated that a high level of glucanases, peroxidases, and PR-1 transcripts, along with elevated levels of phenolics and lignin, were produced in rice plants amended with silicon. Further seminal studies established the critical soil silicon levels and tissue concentrations needed by rice and turf to enhance disease resistance and optimize plant growth. Datnoff’s group successfully transformed these findings into analytical procedures to quantify plant-available silicon in potential fertilizer sources. This will enable industries to more proficiently identify and formulate efficacious silicon fertilizers as plant protectants.
Datnoff has an extensive list of publications and academic distinctions. He has authored three groundbreaking books: ‘Silicon in Agriculture’, the first complete treatise on silicon; ‘Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease’, the first comprehensive treatise on this subject published by APS Press (a CHOICE outstanding academic title and a best-seller for 8 consecutive years); and this year ‘Silicon and Plant Disease’. He has authored or co-authored over 300 publications that include book chapters, refereed journal, and technical/miscellaneous articles. He has been awarded visiting professorships at Okayama University, Japan and the Federal Universidade de Uberlandia, Brazil. He has received over 75 invitations to speak on silicon and plant health from universities and research institutions in 20 countries. At UF, he chaired or co-chaired committees for over 21 PhD, MS, and Doctor of Plant Medicine students and hosted research scholars from Brazil and Great Britain.
Datnoff has received many prestigious awards including the APS-International Service Award, APS-Caribbean Division Frederick L. Wellman Award, Senior Fulbright Research Award-Spain, and the UF Research Foundation Professorship Award. He has received more than $2 million in grant support from USAID, USDA, international foundations, commodity groups, and agricultural chemical industries.
As the Head of the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology at LSU, Datnoff has enthusiastically promoted and expanded the vision of graduate student education to go beyond traditional classroom and individual research activities. He effectively sought new funding through international agreements and industry sources that increased student numbers. He provided funds to graduate students to invite and interact with scientists of their choosing. Seminar speakers have regularly been sought from diverse areas, including various government, consulting, and industry sources, to share their professional experiences with students in formal and informal settings. Under his leadership, students have instituted a journal club, shared research training experiences, and organized trips associated with APS meetings to visit other departments and industry facilities. The students received the first APS-OSPR Departmental Plant Pathology Experiential Award in 2015.
Datnoff has been an active and exemplary APS member serving as Caribbean Division officer (Division Forum Representative and President); member/chair/co-chair of Council, APS Press, APS Foundation, and the Mycorrhizae, Turfgrass and Office of International Program Committees. He has organized symposia, colloquia, and poster sessions and served as section co-editor of F&N tests, Associate Editor for Plant Disease, and reviewer for
Mineral nutrition is a key component of host plant resistance; however, the complexity of the interaction has made research very challenging. Datnoff’s innovative and comprehensive research related to silicon and host plant resistance has been both conceptual and applied. He has contributed extensively to the understanding of the effects of silicon in plant disease development; he has successfully promoted silicon use as a commercial reality, he has made outstanding contributions to APS, and as an administrator, he continues to promote innovative graduate education. Lawrence Datnoff is highly deserving of APS Fellow recognition.
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