Oregon Genome Researcher Wins China Prize

Friendship Award given by People's Republic.

Published on: Oct 17, 2013

The People's Republic of China thinks Oregon's Brett Tyler is something special.

They signaled their pleasure with the Oregon State University's Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing with its highest civic award for non-Chinese scientists, the Friendship Award of China.

Tyler was honored for working with the Chinese as a technical advisor and science collaborator with scientists at the Nanjing Agricultural University among other Chinese institutions.

Major advances against some of the world's most costly plant diseases are beginning to surface under Tyler's research, who fostered collaborative work with Chinese scientists on a group of organisms that cause late blight in potatoes and other maladies such as soybean root rot, both which results in millions of dollars in crop losses globally.

New work on potato diseases is turning out new varieties with better resistance, boosted by work between Oregon State U, China and Europe.
New work on potato diseases is turning out new varieties with better resistance, boosted by work between Oregon State U, China and Europe.

Research between the two nations has advanced food production through understanding of how plants like potatoes and soybeans resist illnesses and how their genetic makeup can be incorporated in better ways into new crop varieties.

Potatoes developed by European researchers – who Tyler also works with – have already incorporated some of the genetic characteristics disclosed by the study which are just arriving in commercial markets.

The international work "is a wonderful bridge across the Pacific with the joint objective of increasing food security," says "Tyler, who holds the Stewart Chair in Gene Research at OSU. The team focuses on plant and pathogen genetics since the diseases can be high devastating, and use of chemical pesticides often results in disease tolerance.

"I've been working with an expanding circle of collaborators in China," explains Tyler, who has traveled to the Asian nation more than a dozen times.

"We have published papers in top journals and established a growing collaborative research program."

Tyler's Chinese counterparts have formed a consortium to apply results of the disease resistance work in soybean and potato breeding.