This award honors individuals who have made an outstanding, innovative research contribution that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology.
Kirankumar (Kiran) Mysore was born in Bangalore, India. He received his B.S. degree in Agriculture (1991) from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India; his M.S. degree in horticulture (1994) from Clemson University; and his Ph.D. degree in genetics (1999) from Purdue University. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, in Greg Martin’s laboratory, he was an early user of new transcript profiling technologies to identify altered gene expression in tomato during Pto-mediated defense against Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. From 2002 to 2012, he progressed from assistant professor to professor and head of the Plant, Microbe and Soil Section at the Noble Research Institute. He is now a professor at Oklahoma State University.
During Mysore’s postdoctoral work focusing on gene-for-gene resistance, he realized that R gene-mediated disease resistance was not usually durable and began considering strategies to confer more durable disease resistance in crop plants. Nonhost resistance, a phenomenon that allows plants from an entire species to be resistant to all isolates of a pathogen species, caught his attention. Early in his tenure at the Noble Foundation, he initiated a project to identify plant genes that play a role in nonhost disease resistance. His highly cited review, “Nonhost Resistance: How Much Do We Know?” (Trends in Plant Science), during that time, highlighted his interest in this area. To progress in this area, he recognized the importance of improving technologies to evaluate host gene functions during microbe interactions. His laboratory demonstrated new ways to induce and evaluate virus-induced silencing (VIGS) for gene function studies. These included discovering a simple soil-drenching procedure around the roots of plants to more easily obtain Agrobacterium-mediated VIGS and analyzing off-target affects during post-transcriptional gene silencing. His laboratory utilized a mixed elicitor Nicotiana benthamiana cDNA library to analyze gene function by forward genetics through Tobacco rattle virus-based VIGS. Most significantly, Mysore initiated generation of a large retrotransposon (Tnt1) insertion mutant population in the model legume, Medicago truncatula, aiming to understand plant gene function during nonhost resistance, but also more generally during plant-microbe interactions or plant development.
Mysore verified the value of his resources by using them in his laboratory to understand how Agrobacterium tumefaciens (causal agent of crown gall disease) infects plants. He and coworkers identified several plant genes with roles during A. tumefaciens infection. Exemplary of this work, his group used VIGS to demonstrate that the host VirE2 Interacting Protein 2, VIP2, was required for stable Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation by aiding T-DNA integration into the host genome. Both VIGS and the Tnt1 insertion population were used to identify genes involved in nonhost resistance. Through VIGS, genes encoding squalene synthase (SQS), ornithine delta-aminotransferase (δOAT), proline dehydrogenases (ProDH), glycolate oxidase (GOX), nucleolar GTP-binding protein 1 (NOG1), general control nonrepressible-4 (GCN4), nonhost resistance 2 (NHR2), thioredoxin-like 1 (TRXL1), and iron-sulfur cluster proteins were among many genes shown to be important for bacterial nonhost resistance. Thus, increasing nutrient or metabolite release into the apoplast, decreasing a hypersensitive response, inhibiting photorespiratory reactive oxygen species production, and increasing stomatal aperture, all resulted in greater nonhost pathogen infection. An invited article published in the Annual Review of Phytopathology in 2013 reviewed, in detail, the roles of some of these genes in nonhost disease resistance. Using the Tnt1 insertion lines of M. truncatula, the roles of chlorophyll catabolism, phytoalexins, saponins, and IRG1 (Inhibitor of Rust Germ tube differentiation1), encoding a Cys(2)His(2) zinc finger transcription factor, in nonhost resistance against Asian soybean rust were demonstrated. Regarding IRG1, Mysore’s laboratory demonstrated that loss of expression of this gene resulted in complete loss of abaxial epicuticular wax crystals, which was correlated with an inability for pre-infection structures of specific fungal pathogens to differentiate on the host abaxial leaf surface.
The Mysore laboratory has generated an invaluable collection of ~21,000 publicly available M. truncatula Tnt1 insertion lines. Nearly 14,000 lines from this collection have been requested by approximately 220 laboratories worldwide. Over 250 manuscripts have been published by a subset of these laboratories, demonstrating the usefulness of this resource for gene function studies. Additionally, in collaboration with Jiangqi Wen at the Noble Research Institute, more than 400,000 flanking sequence tags of Tnt1 inserts have been made available for researchers to help identify mutants for their gene of interest in the mutant lines. Besides using these resources to identify and characterize plant genes important for plant–pathogenic microbe interactions, they have been used extensively to study plant–non-pathogenic microbe interactions and plant development.
Mysore has coauthored ~250 peer-reviewed publications. Many of these publications are in high-impact journals (e.g., Science, Current Biology, Nature Series, Plant Cell, PNAS, Cell Reports), as well as in elite core-topic journals (e.g., Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions, Molecular Plant Pathology, Phytopathology). He currently holds eight patents in the areas of plant disease resistance and Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation. He has secured over $6.5 million in state, federal, international, and corporate support for his research. His research and scholarship have been recognized through a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He serves as an editor/associate editor for PeerJ, Bioenergy Research, Grassland Research, and BMC Plant Biology. He serves the research community as an organizer of multiple workshops, conferences, and sessions within conferences. As a leader in studies on nonhost resistance and technology development, Mysore has been an invited speaker at approximately 70 national or international conferences, universities, and research institutions.
Mysore is an innovative and driven researcher who has made significant long-term contributions in many areas of plant-microbe research, but particularly in understanding plant nonhost resistance to pathogens and in producing tools to study plant–microbe interactions and plant development. The annual Tnt1 screening workshop he has organized for the past 12 years at Noble further highlights his dedication to helping researchers working in these areas. His contributions will have long-lasting impact on the field of plant pathology. Particularly, his tools such as the Tnt1 mutant lines have changed plant gene function studies by allowing efficient in planta analysis for thousands of genes.