AMES, Iowa -- The American Phytopathological Society has honored Thomas Baum, Iowa State University professor of plant pathology, as part of a team that has changed the direction of research into nematodes that attack plants.

Baum, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology in ISU's College of Agriculture, will receive the Ruth Allen Award for Innovative Research along with Richard Hussey of the University of Georgia and Eric Davis of North Carolina State University.

The award recognizes scientists who have made outstanding, innovative contributions to research that has changed, or has the potential to change, the direction of research in any field of plant pathology. The award will be presented at the society's annual meeting, July 29 to Aug. 2 in Quebec City, Quebec.

"There are few examples of teams in the plant pathology scientific community that have made a greater impact on their field than that made by Hussey, Davis and Baum on our understanding of how plant-parasitic nematodes establish a parasitic relationship with their plant hosts," stated the society's announcement of the award.

Plant-parasitic nematodes are potentially devastating pathogens that attack agricultural and horticultural crops world-wide. In Iowa, the most serious pathogen problem in soybeans is the soybean cyst nematode. Across the nation an estimated $700 million is lost each year to the pathogen.

The team has developed and used innovative approaches to study the earliest stages of the parasitic relationship between the nematode and the plant. The research identified more than 100 different secretions nematodes use to infect plants. The long-term goal of the research is to devise new control mechanisms against these pathogens, including genetically engineering plants or interfering with the nematodes' method of attack.

SOURCE: Iowa State University news release.