Suresh,L.M.

Suresh Lingadahalli Mahabaleswara (PhD) grew up in India and attended University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. India, where he earned a B.Sc. in 1983 in agriculture. He earned Suresh an M.Sc. (Agri.,) (1995) from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, India, and also holds an MBA (2008) from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, India.

Between 2016 and 2017,  Suresh earned an Executive Leadership Program from Cornell University

He obtained a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in 2013 from Kuvempu University, Shivamogga, India where he worked on Diagnosis and Molecular Characterization of Emerging Viral Diseases of Certain Cucurbitaceous Crops in Maharashtra, India under the direction of Dr. V.G. Malathi, Principal Scientist, Advanced Center for Plant Virus Studies, IARI, New Delhi. Suresh currently serves as the head of Maize Pathology  Sub Saharan Africa and MLN Screening facility Manager at CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Nairobi, Kenya. This station has served as the nerve center of the intense and fruitful breakthrough research into the Maize Lethal Necrosis.

For his substantial research efforts, Suresh has earned professional recognition for breakthrough research on plant pathology and breeding. Suresh has been awarded M.J Narasimhan Award for best research article published in Indian Phytopathology during 2013, also he was awarded research excellence award, Global customer challenge Award, Global technology recognition award in Monsanto company.

Suresh has guided three M.Sc and one Ph.D. student and mentored them in plant pathology and guided several students during their internships so far. A primary focus of his work has been the Global Maize Program projects that have strategic significance in maize pathology, disease diagnosis, epidemiology, and disease resistance.

While working for Nunhems (a subsidiary of BASF), Suresh collaboratively optimized disease screening protocol for various vegetable diseases in India. His work screened large tomato populations of tomato Breeder to develop a tomato hybrid that was resistant to the leaf curl virus and one that commands about 40% of India’s market share.  This hybrid is now grown by thousands of farmers who earn higher incomes leading to high standards of living. Sales from this tomato hybrid have earned the company about 150 million USD leading to 37.5 million acres of the produce.

While working for Seminis Vegetable Seeds during 2001-2014, he focused his research on various strategic diseases in Vegetables, mainly on Tomato, Eggplant, Pepper, Cucumber, Watermelon, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Onion, Okra. He optimized disease screening protocols for key diseases for these vegetable crops mainly including Tomato Leaf Curl Virus (ToLCV), Bacterial Wilt (BW), Groundnut Bud Necrosis (GBNV), Alternaria Leaf Blight (EB) in Tomato, Anthracnose, Phytophthora, and Fusarium wilt, Cucumber Mosaic Virus and Chilli Veinal Mottle Virus, Groundnut Bud Necrosis (GBNV) in Hot Pepper, Cucumber Downy Mildew and Viral diseases of Cucumber and Water Melon, Black rot diseases in Cabbage and Cauliflower, Yellow Vein Mosaic in Okra.  He was instrumental in identifying disease resistance sources and developing disease-resistant vegetables with the collaboration of several breeders and scientists in India and worldwide in Seminis Company. These vegetable hybrids were grown in India by several farmers. He always customer / farmer-focused, he developed a training module to train field extension workers, seed growers with his innovative way, and now popularly called “GURUKUL”. He supported seed production for producing clean seed (disease-free). He had contributed to prepare the disease guide of Tomato, Pepper, and Eggplant, Cucurbits, Crucifers, and published at the international level. He is instrumental to develop a world-class laboratory (6000 sq. feet) and an environmentally controlled greenhouse ( 2 acres) for conducting disease screening for 22 diseases in 7 vegetable crops. He had 6 invention disclosures/patents with his research.

Suresh has constantly advocated for the use of scientific research findings as a tool to uplift the livelihoods of the 300 million sub-Saharan African smallholder farmers that grow maize as a staple crop. His work has contributed to combating Maize Lethal Necrosis which threatens more than 95% of the commercially grown maize varieties in sub-Saharan Africa. Suresh’s research success has largely derived from intense collaboration which enabled him to phenotype around 200,000 maize germplasm from various partners.

Suresh is dedicated to capacity building and skills transfer to prevent further spread of MLN from Eastern Africa to Southern Africa and contain the spread with Eastern Africa. This is reflected in his supporting the training of more than 5,000 researchers, students, extension workers, private seed company executives, and farmers in rapid disease diagnosis and control. These efforts within CIMMYT have resulted in the release of 19 Maize MLN disease resistant/tolerant hybrids in Africa and greatly contributed to the containing of MLN as well as boosting food security in the continent. In addition, Suresh has been instrumental in standardizing disease screening protocol for important diseases of maize in Sub Saharan Africa He is supporting in safe exchange of disease-free maize germplasm between Kenya and the rest of Africa and the World with meticulous disease testing. Among the more than 10 awards he has been honored with include the 2020 UK Research and Innovation International Development Peer College Appreciation Award, Appreciation Award for Leading efforts for Managing MLN screening facility from CIMMYT (2018), and the 2014 Innovation through collaboration Award from Monsanto company.

Suresh has participated also gave oral presentations at various international conferences including; 3rd IFOAM-ASIA Conference on Organic Agriculture at Bangalore, India (1997), the Second Global Conference on Plant Pathology at Udaipur, India (2005), and Crucifer Genetics Workshop in Brassica 2006 at the Netherlands. In 2007, he participated in the First Chilli Anthracnose Symposium in South Korea and several Seminis / Monsanto Crop Species Conference/workshop in India, ASIA, EMEA and NAFTA. In 2017 and 2018, he attended the Excellence in Breeding advisory workshop organized by CGIAR in Nairobi and Netherlands, and in 2018 Suresh participated in the 2nd International conference on Phytosanitation on “Appropriate Surveillance and diagnostics tools in Prevention of the spread of MLN to Southern Africa” in Nairobi, Kenya. He participated in 14th International Plant Virus Epidemiology (IVPE) Symposium in 2019 in Seoul, Korea and participated in the seventh International Crop Science Congress, held during August 14–19, 2016, in Beijing China, and in 2020 participated in the 7th International Conference on Phytopathology in Achieving UN Sustainable developmental goals, at ICAR-IARI, New Delhi, India. He presented his key research findings as a keynote speaker on Maize Letha Necrosis.

Suresh has published several publications, which are published in Indian and International reputed journals. He has also contributed to preparing several training literatures and technical manual on Management of Maize Lethal Necrosis. He has contributed significantly to updating the MLN web portal.

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