T. Erik Mirkov
T. Erik Mirkov was born in Ontario, CA. In 1981, he received a B.S. degree from the University of California at Riverside, and continued on at the University of California-Riverside and received a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology in 1988. After graduation he spent a few years at the Salk Institute in San Diego and was appointed research biologist at the University of California-San Diego. In 1994, he joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Texas A&M University and is located at the TAMU Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, TX.
Dr. Mirkov is recognized for developing methods and tools to improve the agricultural and biotechnological value of sugarcane and citrus. He has identified and deployed gene promoters to express agronomically important transgenes in sugarcane and the characterization of a new virus (Sugarcane yellow leaf virus). He also has developed transgenic sugarcane with resistance against Sugarcane mosaic virus. The transgenic resistance was due to posttranscriptional gene silencing, which represented the first demonstration of this mechanism in a monocot. He also used sugarcane to express pharmaceutically relevant foreign genes. A prototype protein extraction facility was built at a sugar mill to extract commercially acceptable quantities of snowdrop lectin and bovine lysozyme protein from transgenic sugarcane.
Dr. Mirkov is recognized for research contributions to control Citrus tristeza virus. Using molecular methods, he isolated a resistance gene from a wild citrus relative. He developed transgenic citrus plants in commercial varieties that are being tested for engineered resistance in the field. Dr. Mirkov also has produced transgenic citrus to protect trees against bacterial diseases and from attack by insects.
He has been actively engaged in student training and is a member of the graduate faculties of the College Station and Kingsville campuses of Texas A&M University. He is a member of several scientific societies and serves as associate editor for Plant Disease. In summary, Dr. Mirkov is a true pioneer in deploying molecular genetic strategies to advance crop improvement.