Link to home

Robert R. Martin

There have been very few individuals who have had such a great impact on small fruit virology as Robert R. Martin.  Martin was born on a dairy farm, near Athens, WI, and received a B.S. degree in forestry and a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After receiving his doctorate, Martin moved to Corvallis, OR, as a post-doctoral fellow at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory (HCRL) from 1980 to 1982 where he studied virus diseases of strawberry under the guidance of Richard Converse, a renowned small fruit virologist. In 1982, Martin accepted a position as a plant pathologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia, before moving back to the HCRL in Corvallis, OR, in 1995.

Currently, Martin is a research plant pathologist and the research leader of the Horticultural Crops Research Unit. In addition, Martin holds appointments as professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at Oregon State University. Martin has been the leading figure worldwide in the identification, characterization, and management of viruses affecting small fruit crops (blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry). His research groups in Canada and the United States have identified and characterized more than 40 virus species in small fruit, ornamental, and vegetable crops. An example of his accomplishments is the fact that he has been involved in the molecular characterization of more than half of the 24 viruses known to infect strawberry. He was the first to obtain the sequence of a small fruit virus (Strawberry mild yellow edge virus) and is the leader in the development of virus-resistant small fruit crops using genetic engineering. He has developed raspberry lines resistant to Raspberry bushy dwarf virus, an accomplishment that has the potential to eliminate one the greatest problems growers face in the Pacific Northwest.

During the last 10 years, Martin has published more than 25 articles in Phytopathology, Plant Disease, and Plant Health Progress dealing with the characterization, detection, and epidemiology of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, and grape viruses. He works closely with growers, identifying and addressing problems as they arise in the field and developing methods for both diagnostics and disease management. This work has had tremendous impact and resulted in economic benefits for small fruit growers in the United States and throughout the world where these crops are planted. An example of the impact of his work is the identification of a group of viruses as the causal organisms of a strawberry decline on the west coast of North America over the past six years. The IPM scheme developed in California has virtually eliminated the disease and has saved California growers an estimated $25 million/year. Martin is always eager to help colleagues around the world, and scientists from Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Hungary, Germany, Tunisia, and Israel have visited his laboratory to learn new techniques developed in the Martin Lab for the detection and study of small fruit viruses. He has been invited to several countries in the Middle East and South America where he developed and presented workshops on identification and detection of small fruit viruses. Martin also has an outstanding record of professional service, especially through his many contributions to professional societies including APS. He has served APS both as a member and chair of the Biotechnology Impact Assessment and the Detection and Diagnosis Committees, and as a member of the Virology Committee. He has served as senior editor for APS PRESS and as an associate editor for Phytopathology and Plant Disease, and he has organized several APS symposia.

Given Martin’s extraordinary accomplishments, we feel he is a most deserving candidate for the Lee M. Hutchins Award.