- The Strobel lab discovered the Ri plasmid in Agrobacterium rhizogenes. This plasmid was demonstrated for the first time as the causal factor responsible for the genetic transformation of plant roots into additional masses of roots on inoculated plants and in artificial root assays. The Ri plasmid is now used to genetically engineer many organisms for improved qualities and characteristics.
- In the late 60s, Strobel’s lab isolated and characterized the host specific toxin helminthosporoside from H. sacchari. This was the first plant-host-specific toxin to be isolated from a plant pathogen. This interesting compound is now used worldwide to aid the selection process for the improvement of sugarcane.
- Muscodor albus was isolated and characterized while Strobel was associated with Ecopharm in Bozeman, Mont. This organism makes and excretes volatile antibiotics, which is a first for all fungi. Numerous patents now cover the associated uses of this fungus for such things as waste decontamination, fruit treatment, seed treatment, soil decontamination, building treatment and other applications.
- The wide spectrum antifungal antibiotics, the pseudomycins, were discovered in Strobel’s lab in the late 80’s for use in treating Dutch elm disease. The bacterium that produces them was the center of a controversy in the late 80’s at MSU with the famous “ELM tree episode.” The pseudomcins have been licensed to Eli Lilly for use in treating human and other fungal infections.
- Over the years, numerous biologically active compounds have been isolated and chemically characterized by Strobel’s lab including Colutellin (a novel immunosuppressive agent); the Munumbicins (novel antibiotics), Isopestacin (a novel antioxidant), the Cryptocandins (anti-fungal agents); Oocydin(a chlorinated macrocyclic lactone with amazing anti –oomycete activity); and many fungal toxins of plants.
- A fungus making many of the ingredients of diesel fuel was recently discovered in Strobel’s lab. This endophytic fungus was found in Patagonia and shown to make gases that possessed antifungal activities. In turn, when analyzed, it was realized that the gases being made by this fungus contained many compounds found in diesel fuel and their chemical derivatives. It was a first for any microbe to be discovered to make so many volatile fuel-like compounds. Strobel and his co-workers speculated that maybe crude oil has some of its origins with microbial processes.
- Novel biologically active compounds that are made by pathogens of weeds were the subject of intense interest to the Strobel lab in the 80’s. Some of the work was summarized in an article in Scientific American, 1991.
- Many of the people in Strobel’s lab are undergraduate students. Some are in the the process of isolating and characterizing novel endophytic fungi. In the past some novel discoveries have included Muscodor vitigenus, Muscodor roseum, and Seimatoantlerium tepuiensis.
Gary A. Strobel, Professor
PhD from University of California-Davis.
206 Plant BioScience Building
232 Plant BioScience Building