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2023 Fellow: Marc Cubeta​

Marc Anthony Cubeta was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Delaware (1980), University of Illinois (1983), and North Carolina State University (1991), respectively. Marc was a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University (1992-94) and in 1994 accepted an Assistant Professor position at NC State University Vernon James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth, North Carolina. At the Center, Marc conducted research on field and vegetable crop diseases and interacted with agricultural consultants, growers, extension agents, and researchers. In 2001, he transferred to the main campus in Raleigh and was promoted to Professor in 2008. Dr. Cubeta is currently a member of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Associate Director of the Center for Integrated Fungal Research and Director of the Larry F. Grand Mycological Herbarium.  

Marc has established himself as a world authority on Rhizoctonia fungi. His research represented the first study to use PCR-based methods to characterize the phylogenetic and taxonomic relatedness of Ceratobasidium and provide unambiguous identification of non-sexual reproducing stages of Rhizoctonia fungi. Dr. Cubeta's research has revealed that Rhizoctonia solani is a species complex that represents an early diverging assemblage of beneficial and pathogenic plant associated fungi. Marc's research has advanced our understanding of the population and reproductive biology, occurrence and transmission of dsRNA viruses, bacterial-fungal microbiome interactions, and role of phenylacetic acid in seedling growth, and resulted in diagnostic methods to identify Rhizoctonia fungi from azalea, banana, cacao, corn, orchid, peanut, potato, sugarbeet, rice, soybean, tomato, turfgrass, and wheat. Dr. Cubeta's effort to lead the international R. solani anastomosis group 3 genome sequencing initiative resulted in the first published report on the genome of this important global plant pathogen. This project also provided evidence for the occurrence and factors that contribute to the genetic diversity and expansion of one of the largest mitochondrial genomes of a filamentous fungus, which was driven primarily by multiplication of novel repetitive elements. Marc is currently involved in an international project to sequence 60 genomes of beneficial and pathogenic Rhizoctonia fungi to address questions related to host plant adaptation and nuclear genome heterogeneity.  

Dr. Cubeta's reputation as a productive scientist worldwide on Rhizoctonia fungi is evidenced by numerous invitations to national and international meetings (including the Parmeter Keynote lecture at the 2013 International Rhizoctonia Symposium in Zhengzhou, China) and election as President of the International Rhizoctonia Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology. In addition to Marc's research impact on Rhizoctonia, he has investigated the ecology and population genetics of other economically important fungal plant pathogens, including Calonectria pseudonaviculata, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Monilinia vaccinii corymbosi, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. More recently, Marc and his colleagues at the College of Veterinary Medicine have examined the role of plant associated Fusarium species in fungal equine keratitis disease in horses. The impact and level of recognition in multiple pathosystems achieved by Dr. Cubeta reflects the breadth and depth of his research program and ability to address fundamental questions on pathogen ecology, genome organization, population genetics, and microbiome science.  

Marc has an extensive list of publications and academic distinctions. He has authored or coauthored over 120 publications that include book chapters, refereed journal (including three Editor's pick citations in Plant Disease and Phytopathology, and an invited submission for the Special Population Genomic issue in Phytopathology), and extension/miscellaneous articles. He has served as an advisor and mentor for 52 high school teachers, 33 high school students, 39 undergraduate students, 20 graduate students, 8 postdoctoral scientists, 5 faculty, and hosted research scientists from 10 countries. Marc is an outstanding mentor to graduate students, many of whom have received numerous recognitions and published high quality research manuscripts. Dr. Cubeta has served as a member of 81 graduate student committees and in a leadership role for various educational outreach programs for the public. He interacts well with faculty and students in and outside the Department and is valued for his advice and approach for addressing problems in multiple areas, with this interaction extending to other universities and international students. He is particularly interested in providing educational opportunities for underrepresented populations and first-generation college students. Dr. Cubeta has received over 65 invitations to speak on his research from US and international universities, research institutions, and scientific conferences in 20 countries. Marc organized or co-organized 18 plant pathology related workshops, meetings, and symposia and has received multiple awards including the NC State University Chancellor's Celebration of Faculty Excellence, Provost Research and Outstanding Alumnus, Fulbright Scholar (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala), Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (Japan), and APS Outstanding Teaching Awards. Marc is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Mycological Society of America.  

Dr. Cubeta's grant support reflects his broad-based approach to problem solving. Marc has received consistent research funding, totaling more than 22 million dollars (~4 M directly to his research program) in extramural grant support from DOE, NSF, USAID, USDA, international foundations, commodity groups, and agricultural chemical industries. Marc has functioned in an administrative and leadership capacity for advisory and editorial boards, internal and external peer-review grant panels, and professional societies at regional, national, and international levels. He was appointed to The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Microbiome Focus Group and has been an APS member for 41 years. Cubeta's service to APS includes Phytopathology Editorial Committee (member); Mycology Committee (member and chair); APS representative for the US National Committee of the International Union for Microbiological Sciences (IUMS), mycology section; APS and Mycology Society of America (MSA) Liaison; and International Year of Plant Health Congressional Workshop and Reception. He has organized symposia, colloquia, and poster sessions at APS annual meetings and served as an ad hoc reviewer for Plant Disease and Phytopathology. As MSA President in 2020, Marc interacted closely with APS leadership on cross-society related issues. The breadth, overall productivity, and prestige of Marc's research program is impressive, with many outstanding and significant contributions to science and plant pathology.