'The Good Bugs: Why Agriculture Needs Microbes' -- free public lecture

January 25, 2012

A free public lecture titled "The Good Bugs: Why Agriculture Needs Microbes" will take place at 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Marilyn Roossinck, professor of plant pathology and biology at Penn State.

The event is the third of six lectures in the 2012 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse for the general public with the theme "Food: Strategies for Growing Enough for Everyone." No registration is required. The lectures take place on consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building.

An insight that sparked Roossinck's research program is that modern agriculture does its best to rid food crops of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, but wild plants thrive while they are full of these "bugs." In her lecture, Roossinck will describe what she is discovering about how microbes -- including viruses -- sometimes benefit their host plants and how her research is revealing ways that microbes can make agriculture more sustainable.

Throughout her career, Roossinck has focused her research on the ecology and evolution of viruses. In her lab, she uses plant and fungal viruses as model systems. Although viruses have been studied predominantly as agents of disease in humans and in their domesticated plants and animals, Roossinck also studies how viruses can form mutualistic relationships with plants and fungi.

Roossinck has published numerous scientific papers in journals such as Science, Nature Biotechnology, the Journal of Virology, and Virology, and she has served as an editor for the Journal of General Virology, and on the editorial boards of Phytopathology and Virology. She has presented many invited talks and keynote lectures at scientific meetings in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. She is the recipient of the Leadership in Biodiversity Award from the Bay and Paul Foundations.

In addition to working as a researcher and educator, Roossinck has participated in many public-outreach endeavors. She was the organizer of "Explorations in Science," a public lecture series for the local Ardmore, Oklahoma community.

Roossinck is a member of several professional organizations including the American Society for Virology, the American Society for Microbiology, and the International Symbiosis Society.

Before she joined the Penn State faculty in 2011, Roossinck was a staff scientist and a professor in the Division of Plant Biology at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. She earned doctoral and bachelor's degrees at the University of Colorado in 1986 and 1982, respectively.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-0901 or by email at clm29@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2012 series, is available online at http://science.psu.edu/frontiers.


  • Marilyn Roossinck, professor of plant pathology and biology at Penn State

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015