|Kris Lambert and Luis Payan (Syngenta)
Society of Nematologists Meeting, 2005
Dr. Kris N. Lambert received his B.S. degree in 1987 from St. Mary's College of California, Moraga, CA. In 1995 he was awarded a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California at Davis. While at UC Davis, Dr. Lambert worked with Valerie Williamson to elucidate the nature of nematode parasitism of plants using tomato and Meloidogyne javanica as a model system. He was also integrally involved in the effort to clone and characterize the Mi gene responsible for resistance in cultivated tomato. Dr. Lambert's first significant scientific contribution was a technical development permitting clone libraries to be made with miniscule amounts of starting material. This has become a standard technique used by several labs investigating similar systems in North America and Europe. Dr. Lambert further went on to use this technique to study gene expression in a resistant plant host following nematode invasion. This research is noteworthy for two reasons. Of course, he found interesting genes, but more important, he asked a question much more broad than any other group working on plant resistance. Rather than just focus on the resistance genes per se, Dr. Lambert asked what other genes are involved in the complex events associated with resistance. This ability to look at the bigger picture is a rare skill in any scientist, and one that serves him well.
Dr. Lambert continued his research into the nature of nematode parasitism as a Research Fellow at UC Berkeley in the laboratory of I. M. Sussex. In 1999, he published in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions a seminal article reporting an ingenious strategy to clone esophageal gland genes from Meloidogyne javanica, and described the cloning and characterization of an esophagel-gland-specific chorismate mutase from this nematode species. The enzyme is known to be a key branch-point regulatory enzyme in the shikimate pathway that leads to the production of phenylalanine and tyrosine and had not previously been found in animals. In plants its activity results in the production of derivative compounds that play critical roles in plant growth. At the time, Dr. Lambert and his co-authors postulated that the chorismate mutase (CM) is involved in the parasitism of plants and the formation of feeding cells (giant cells) in root knot nematodes (RKN).
After joining the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 2000 as an Assistant Professor, he and a student showed that transgenic expression of the RKN CM in soybean hairy roots resulted in phenotypic changes in the morphology of those roots. His hypothesis that CM is involved in the establishment by the nematode of a parasitic relationship with the host plant was thereby greatly strengthened. Since then he and his coworkers have recovered CM from soybean cyst nematode (SCN) as well. Further work with CM from SCN suggests that certain of the polymorphic forms of CM can be correlated with virulence of different field populations of SCN. This approach to analyzing SCN field populations to determine in advance their probable effect on soybean cultivars is new. It results entirely from Dr. Lambertís previous basic research to understand more about the development of special host cells that make possible the feeding in host plants of obligate plant parasitic nematodes such as root-knot nematodes and cyst nematodes. The research will continue and will have an enduring effect on agricultural practices related to management of plant parasitic nematodes. Dr. Lambertís creative and visionary research has brought us stunning insights into the nature of plant parasitism by root-knot and cyst nematodes.
Go to Nemaplex Home Page