Dr. Hajimorad

I joined the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in January 2004. I came to UTIA from the Iowa State University (ISU) where I spent 7 years (1997-2004) studying interactions between soybean mosaic virus and soybean at the Department of Plant Pathology. Prior to ISU, I worked on various aspects of plant viruses in a number of research and academic institutions. In 1996 and 1997, I worked as a research scholar at the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky where I studied molecular biological aspects of two cucumoviruses infecting annual crops. During 1994-1996, I worked as a postdoctoral scientist at Molecular Plant Virology and Plant Transformation Section of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma where I studied molecular biological aspects of a potyvirus infecting peanut. In 1991-1994 I was a research assistant scientist and subsequently a research associate scientist at Department of Plant Virology, Plant Pests and Diseases Research Institute, Tehran, Iran. In this period, I worked on applied aspects of a geminivirus infecting tomato and a cucmovirus affecting alfalfa. During the time between 1989-1991, I was a postdoctoral research associate at Department of Plant Pathology, Adelaide University, Australia, where I studied interactions between alfalfa mosaic virus and lucerne.

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Research focus

Plant virus-host interactions
Plants have evolved mechanisms, such as resistance genes, to recognize, directly or indirectly, the invading viruses, activate host defense system, and suppress the invaders at the initial site of infection. On the other hand, viruses have evolved strategies to evade host defense recognition systems mediated by the resistance genes to establish infection and to survive. The main objective or our study is to understand the underlying mechanism(s) of this interaction. We are using a well-defined experimental system to understand how soybean mosaic virus (SMV) that is one of the most widespread soybean viruses in the world overcomes the soybean defense system mediated by the Rsv1 or Rsv4 resistance genes.

Assessment of grapevine viruses in Tennessee vineyards
Grape production is a significant portion of Tennessee’s fruit industry. Viruses are considered as the major threat to grapevine worldwide mainly due to lack of curative or therapeutic treatments for infected plants. Viruses affect the quantity of grape production, negatively impact fruit quality, and shorten the productive life of vines. Despite the economic significance of grapevine to the state of Tennessee and indication of potential increase in acreage, knowledge about grape viruses in Tennessee is non-existent. The main objective of this research is to identify what viruses are associated with and impacting vineyards throughout Tennessee.

Viruses of soybean cyst nematode (SCN)
We have aimed at taking advantage of the contemporary sciences of Virology and Genomics to identify viruses infecting SCN. Viruses identified will be subsequently assayed for pathogenic impact on SCN. Viruses of SCN have potential to be utilized as biological agents against SCN.

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Teaching focus

My teaching philosophy is centered on self-instruction and self-motivation. It is my belief that a student equipped in the fundamental knowledge pertinent to a particular field of science can pick up the future advancements made in that field and make the necessary progress, if one has a strong desire to learn. To encourage self-reliance on learning, no specific text book is assigned. Instead, students are provided with a list of the latest available reference textbooks as well as a comprehensive list of the periodical journals pertinent to Plant Virology.


EPP 521 – Plant Virology (course syllabus on Canvas)

EPP 521 is designed to provide students with an appreciation of Plant Virology as a science, the diversity of plant viruses, their mechanism(s) of replication and spread, impact on agriculture, management of plant viral diseases, and utilization of plant viruses as research tools in other branches of Plant Sciences. It is expected that, by taking this course, students gain some understandings in regards to fundamental aspects of plant viruses, learn about experimental approaches used to study plant viruses, develop the ability to converse with others about classical and contemporary aspects of Plant Virology, and become acquainted with the virological literature. Plant Virology, similar to other branches of Virology, is a highly dynamic field. Newly developed experimental tools and scientific concepts influence the field at a rapid pace, resulting in the discovery of new viruses as well as elucidating previously unknown features of viruses such as genome organization or gene expression strategy. These developments, in turn, necessitate timely adjustments to the course.

reza hajimorad

Associate Professor
office (865) 974-1620
EPP office (865) 974-7135
EPP fax (865) 974-4744

418 Plant Biotechnology Building
2505 EJ Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560

B.S., Plant Protection, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
Ph.D., Plant Virology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

Professional appointment
90% Research, 10% Teaching

Graduate program concentrations
Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Molecular Interactions

Areas of expertise
Plant virology, nematode virology

Experimental evolution, virus variability, host resistance, virus characterization, diagnostics

I am always seeking motivated individuals to work in my laboratory. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about research opportunities in my laboratory.

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Research questions in our laboratory

  • How plant viruses overcome naturally occurring resistance genes?
  • What are plant viral elicitors of resistance?
  • What viruses are present in Tennessee vineyards?
  • What pathogenic viruses are present in laboratory and field populations of soybean cyst nematodes?
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Current lab members

  • Joon Kwon

Selected Publications

1. Hu, R., Dias, N.P., Soltani, S., Vargas-Asencio, J., Hensley, D.D., Perry, K.L., Domier, L.L., and Hajimorad, M.R. (2021). Cultivated and wild grapevines in Tennessee possess overlapping but distinct virus populations. Plant Disease 105, 2785-2791.

2. Wang, Y., Xu, W., Abe, J., Nakahara, K.S., and Hajimorad, M.R. (2020). Precise exchange of HC-Pro cistron between soybean mosaic virus and clover yellow vein virus: Impact on virus viability and host range specificity. Phytopathology 110, 164-173.