Professor Barry Scott was appointed the inaugural Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University in 1985 and currently heads the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Massey University.
Early in his career, he made landmark contributions to the understanding of Rhizobium-legume symbiosis, reported in a seminal Nature paper in 1979.
He then turned his attention to the fungal endophyte-grass symbiosis, which is economically important to New Zealand agriculture. His team was responsible for identifying the endophyte genes responsible for the biosynthesis of lolitrems and peramine, secondary metabolites unique to the symbiosis. The other major advance made by Professor Scott and his group was the demonstration that fungal synthesis of reactive oxygen species is essential for stable maintenance of the symbiosis. The results of this work were reported in two landmark papers published in Plant Cell in 2006. This discovery has led to a new and general framework for the study of fungal-plant interactions.