Tim Murray was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1956. He is professor of plant pathology at Washington State University (WSU). He earned a B.S. degree in plant science from the University of California-Davis in 1978, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from WSU in 1980 and 1983, respectively. He joined the WSU faculty in 1983 as a small grains plant pathologist. He was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and to professor in 1995. He has taught general plant pathology since 1983, was graduate program coordinator from 1991 to 2000, and chair of the Department of Plant Pathology from 2000 to 2008.
Murray’s personal research has focused on the control of eyespot, Cephalosporium stripe, snow mold, and more recently, wheat streak mosaic diseases of wheat. In the 26 years since his appointment as assistant professor of plant pathology at WSU, Murray has become one of the leading cereal pathologists in the United States if not the world. Murray has published more than 50 refereed journal articles and has an extensive publication record in popular and technical presses. He is the author of A Colour Handbook of Diseases of Small Grain Cereal Crops and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Plant Pathology, both of which are widely used reference books. He currently chairs the committee developing the U.S. recovery plan for wheat stem rust raceUg99.
Murray has and continues to provide exemplary service to APS through volunteering on committees, editorial boards, and planning boards. As the founding editor-in-chief of Plant Health Progress, he provided the visionary leadership that led to the publication of the first APS electronic-only journal and the establishment of the multijournal, multidisciplinary Plant Management Network, a web portal for credible science-based information on the management of plants and their problems by practitioners. He has made significant contributions to APS Journals, having served both as associate and senior editor of Plant Disease. He was the APS representative on the editorial board of the Journal of Production Agriculture, member of the Editorial Committee for the Annual Review of Phytopathology, and currently is associate editor for the European Journal of Plant Pathology. He was secretary-treasurer of the APS Pacific Division from 1992 to 1995 and currently serves on the APS Foundation Board and the Ad Hoc Committee on Future Education of Plant Pathologists.
In recognition of his expertise in small grain diseases and disease resistance, Murray was invited to participate in three international research projects. He serves on the Global Steering Committee for a Bioversity International-led project entitled “Global conservation and use of crop genetic diversity to control pests and diseases in support of sustainable agriculture.” In addition, he has collaborative projects with the Hokkaido National Agricultural Experiment Station in Japan on the “Investigation of snow mold resistance genes in wild relatives of wheat and evaluation of their breeding potential” and with the Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences on the “Development of perennial wheat and transfer of resistance to Wheat streak mosaic virus from wheat-Thinopyrum intermedium partial amphiploids into adapted wheat cultivars.”
Eyespot, once one of the most widespread and devastating diseases of early-seeded winter wheat in the Pacific Northwest, was originally brought under control in the 1980s with fungicides at a cost of about $15/acre (applied on nearly 1 million acres annually). The first resistant variety, based on a single gene from a wild wheat, was identified in 1934 and released in the early 1990s. Murray and colleagues subsequently identified and mapped two previously unknown genes for eyespot resistance and identified putative new eyespot resistance genes in six wild relatives of wheat. These advances in identifying new genes and understanding the genetic control of eyespot resistance were made possible by Murray’s innovative use of ß-glucuronidase (GUS)-transformed isolates of the eyespot pathogens (Oculimacula yallundae and Oculimacula acuformis) to identify resistant plants as seedlings. Prior to his work, phenotyping for eyespot resistance in field experiments that required nearly a year to obtain results. Murray’s development of the GUS seedling test enabled the reliable screening of seedlings in just two months with greater accuracy and at lower cost than field testing. Genetic studies of several new sources of resistance are in progress with the goal of developing molecular markers to assist in transferring genes to bread wheat using marker-assisted selection. The technique is also being used to significantly reduce the time required for the introduction of eyespot resistance into new varieties of winter wheat needed to meet ever changing markets, while maintaining essentially zero need for fungicides for eyespot control in the Pacific Northwest. Murray, in collaboration with wheat breeder Stephen Jones, also transferred a new source of resistance to Cephalosporium stripe from the perennial grass and distant relative of wheat, Thinopyrum elongatum, into bread wheat. That gene is now being used in wheat breeding programs in the U.S. Pacific Northwest where Cephalosporium stripe is a chronic problem. Together with new alien genes for eyespot resistance, this work represents one of the most effective examples of alien genes used for disease resistance in any major crop species and has been sustained for the past 15 years. Murray and Jones’ 1995 review of this approach to plant disease management was described in the Annual Review of Phytopathology.
Murray maintains a superior level of excellence in his research and teaching programs. He has directed 17 students to M.S. or Ph.D. degrees, served on the committees of 35 other graduate students, and directed six post-doctoral scientists. His strong record of service to APS and WSU serves as an inspiration to his peers. As department chair, he promoted excellence and teamwork. Under his leadership, the WSU Department of Plant Pathology expanded and became stronger during times of severe institutional financial stress and resulted in more than a 100% increase in graduate student enrollment (from 15 to 36 students). Murray’s sustained record of research productivity, teaching excellence, university and society service, and visionary leadership make him most deserving of the APS Fellow Award.