Joachim Messing

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Jo Messing, August 2008

Joachim W. Messing (born 1946) is a university professor of Molecular Biology and the fourth director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University.[1]

Since his arrival at Rutgers in 1985, Jo Messing has initiated research activity on computational and structural biology and further emphasis on molecular genetics of the regulation of gene expression and biomolecular interactions.[2] In the eighties, he provided incubator space for two Biotechnology centers at Rutgers, one in Medicine and one in Agriculture.[3] Subsequently, he also founded two new departments at Rutgers and served as the first chair, the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and the Department of Genetics.

Prof Messing is also involved in the Plant Genome Initiative at Rutgers, which has contributed to the sequencing of the maize, sorghum, and the rice genome.[4][5] Besides maize, sorghum, and rice, they have also contributed to the sequencing of the Brachypodium[6] and Spirodela genomes.[7]


Jo Messing is a pharmacist by training, but has specialized in molecular biology during his PhD-research at the LM University of Munich and the Max-Planck Institute of Biochemistry.

In the late seventies and early eighties, Jo Messing and his colleagues developed the shotgun DNA sequencing method with single and paired synthetic universal primers. The method is based on fragmenting DNA into small sizes, purifying them by cloning, and defining the start of sequencing with a short oligonucleotide.[8][9] Because fragmentation produces overlapping fragments, sequences can be concatenated by overlapping sequence information,[10] thereby reconstructing contiguous sequences (contigs), which was first exemplified by the complete structure of a plant DNA virus.[11] His cloning vectors were also used to develop the method for oligonucleotide site-directed mutagenesis.[12] DNA cloning, shotgun sequencing and site-directed mutagenesis became widely used to sequence large DNA molecules like human chromosomes and to engineer genes and proteins. These methods are freely available, have been the cornerstone of the biotechnology industry and are cited in many patents.

At Rutgers, his plant genetics initiatives are directed towards the evolution of plant chromosomes and gene duplication. He also researches non-Mendelian inheritance. Applied research in these genomic sequences have permitted his laboratory to study the organization and evolution of the genes that control the supply of proteins for nutrition and as sources of biofuel. Projects with maize focused on upgrading the nutritional value of corn by genetically modifying corn to make methionine and lysine in the seeds, two essential amino acids that people and livestock need in their diet. Investigating the genetic properties of sorghum has led to a natural sorghum variant with increased sugar in the stem allows the plant to be used for both biofuel and feed. Most recent initiatives investigating the properties of spirodela (duckweed) has led to its discovery as an alternative bio-energy source.[13]


Professional career[edit]

  • 1975–1978: Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Munich, Germany
  • 1978–1980: Research Associate in Bacteriology, University of California, Davis, CA
  • 1980–1982: Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • 1982–1984: Associate Professor of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • 1984–1985: Professor of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • 1985–present: University Professor of Molecular Biology, Rutgers University
  • 1988–present: Director, Waksman Institute, Rutgers University

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ "The Waksman Institute homepage". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  2. ^ "The History of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  3. ^ "The Waksman Institute’s Annual Report 2006–2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  4. ^ Maize, A Website about Maize Genome Sequencing Projects
  5. ^ "Graduate programs in Molecular Biosciences at Rutgers". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  6. ^ International Brachypodium Initiative (February 11, 2010). "Genome sequencing and analysis of the model grass Brachypodium distachyon.". Nature. 463 (7282): 763–8. PMID 20148030. doi:10.1038/nature08747. 
  7. ^ Wang W, Messing J (February 19, 2014). "The Spirodela polyrhiza genome reveals insights into its neotenous reduction fast growth and aquatic lifestyle.". Nature Communications. 5 (3311). PMC 3948053Freely accessible. PMID 24548928. doi:10.1038/ncomms4311. 
  8. ^ Messing J, Crea R, Seeburg PH (January 1981). "A system for shotgun DNA sequencing". Nucleic Acids Research. 9 (2): 309–21. PMC 326694Freely accessible. PMID 6259625. doi:10.1093/nar/9.2.309. 
  9. ^ Vieira J, Messing J (October 1982). "The pUC plasmids, an M13mp7-derived system for insertion mutagenesis and sequencing with synthetic universal primers". Gene. 19 (3): 259–68. PMID 6295879. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(82)90015-4. 
  10. ^ Larson R, Messing J (January 1982). "Apple II software for M13 shotgun DNA sequencing". Nucleic Acids Research. 10 (1): 39–49. PMC 326112Freely accessible. PMID 6278410. doi:10.1093/nar/10.1.39. 
  11. ^ Gardner RC, Howarth AJ, Hahn P, Brown-Luedi M, Shepherd RJ, Messing J (June 1981). "The complete nucleotide sequence of an infectious clone of cauliflower mosaic virus by M13mp7 shotgun sequencing". Nucleic Acids Research. 9 (12): 2871–88. PMC 326899Freely accessible. PMID 6269062. doi:10.1093/nar/9.12.2871. 
  12. ^ Norrander J, Kempe T, Messing J (December 1983). "Construction of improved M13 vectors using oligodeoxynucleotide-directed mutagenesis". Gene. 26 (1): 101–6. PMID 6323249. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(83)90040-9. 
  13. ^ "Messing’s personal website at the Waksman Institute". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  14. ^ "Jo Messing, Highly cited scientist in ISI web of". 2003-08-20. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  15. ^ Holden C. (October 4, 1991). "Briefings: The Hunt for Drugs From Nature". Science. 254 (5028): 28. PMID 17739944. doi:10.1126/science.254.5028.28-a. 
  16. ^ Yanisch-Perron C, Vieira J, Messing J (1985). "Improved M13 phage cloning vectors and host strains: nucleotide sequences of the M13mp18 and pUC19 vectors". Gene. 33 (1): 103–19. PMID 2985470. doi:10.1016/0378-1119(85)90120-9. 
  17. ^ "List of AAAS fellows". Archived from the original on 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  18. ^ "US Rice Genome Consortium receives USDA Secretary's Honor Awards". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  19. ^ "Rutgers’ Messing Elected to Historic European Scientific Society". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  20. ^ "Investiture Ceremony for the Selman Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics". Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  21. ^ Wolf Prize 2013 – Agriculture
  22. ^ "Inside NJ – 100 Most Influential People". Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  23. ^ "American Society of Microbiology homepage". Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  24. ^ "AAM Fellows Elected in 2015". American Academy of Microbiology. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  25. ^ "Member Directory – Joachim Messing". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2015-11-04. 
  26. ^ "Rutgers Report of Endowed Chairs Created – Campaign for Excellence". Rutgers University Foundation. Retrieved 2016-07-01. 
  27. ^ "Newly Elected Fellows in 2016". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2015-07-01. 

External links[edit]