Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Published in PHYTOPATHOLOGY 98:10 (2008), pp. 1056-1059. Used by permission.


Plant pathology lost a distinguished pioneer in plant virology with the death of Dr. Myron K. Brakke on 15 June 2007. Those who were his close colleagues also lost a valued mentor, an irreplaceable friend, and a trusted adviser. Brakke’s most notable accomplishment was the development of sucrose density gradient centrifugation for the purification and characterization of viruses and macromolecules, which led to major advances in biochemistry and molecular biology. He also was responsible for introducing numerous techniques and equipment for fractionation of macromolecules that were crucial for the development of virology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. In the early stages of his career as a member of Lindsay Black’s group, Brakke had a major impact on the understanding of insect-transmitted viruses including Wound tumor virus (WTV), Potato yellow dwarf virus (PYDV), and Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). In addition, Brakke collaborated with other members of the Black group to make significant contributions to tissue culture research by identifying an α-amylase that was secreted from plant cells (25,26).