James R. Cook
Wolf Prize Laureate in Agriculture 2011
James R. Cook
Affiliation at the time of the award:
Washington State University, USA
“for seminal discoveries in plant pathology and soil microbiology that impact crop productivity and disease management. Through an understanding of the factors that impact the ecology of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes. Prof. Cook’s work has improved disease control in wheat and barley and altered paradigms of plant disease control in other crops”.
Prof. James R. Cook (born 1937, USA) has worked in the area of soil-borne plant diseases. As a true pioneer in plant pathology, he has initiated, developed and is leading, the field of biological control of plant diseases. In this respect, he, too, has had an impact beyond his own field. Prof. Cook led the team that discovered the nature of suppressive soils that limit the growth of certain plant pathogens. He has identified and provided both fundamental and practical solutions to control different groups of soil-borne pathogens.
Most particularly, his work has centered on:
1. Developing and elucidating mechanisms of biological control of plant pathogens, based on the discovery that continuous monoculture of susceptible wheat and barley results in a rise and then decline in severity of take-all disease.
2. Developing the concept of water potential, as a basis for understanding the effect of soil moisture and drought stress on the development of plant diseases.
3. Managing root diseases in cereal-intensive conservation tillage systems.
In addition to his impact on research, Prof. Cook is highly influential in the practice and policy of agricultural sciences. He is a very prolific writer who has published many papers. His peers report that his work has had a dramatic effect on virtually every aspect of discussion and decision-making on field crop disease management.