T. Jack Morris, PhD

Distinguished Professor 
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
School of Biological Sciences
206 Morrison Center
Lincoln, NE 68583-0900
Office: 402-472-8408
Lab Phone: 402-472-8889
Fax: 402-472-2083


Research Interests

We study plant viruses with a particular emphasis on understanding the molecular basis of virus-host interactions. We have been exploring mechanisms of host plant resistance in Arabidopsis to turnip crinkle virus (TCV) infection. The ability to manipulate both the viral pathogen and the host plant using molecular genetic and genomic tools makes our model system particularly suitable for examining molecular basis of plant innate immunity and the role of the silencing pathway in defense against viral infection. Research applications include the development of novel strategies for genetically engineering resistance against viral pathogens, and in the area of plant biotechnology, using RNA viruses as transient vectors for vaccine development against animal viruses.

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Donze, T., Qu, F., Twigg, P. & Morris, T.J. (2014), Turnip crinkle virus coat protein inhibits the basal immune response to virus invasion in Arabidopsis by binding to the NAC transcription factor TIP. Virology 449: 207-214.
  1. Tatineni, S., Qu, F., Li, R., Morris, TJ. and French, R. (2012) Triticum mosaic poacevirus enlists P1 rather than HC-Pro to suppress RNA silencing-mediated host defense. Virology 433: 104-115.
  1. Holly R. Prendeville, Xiaohong Ye, T. Jack Morris, and Diana Pilson. (2012) Virus infections in wild plant populations are both frequent and often unapparent. Am. J. Bot. 99: 1033-1042
  1. Young, BA., Stenger, DC., Qu, F., Morris, TJ., Tatineni, S. & French, R. Tritimovirus. (2012) P1 functions as a suppressor of RNA silencing and an enhancer of disease symptoms. Virus Research 163, 672-677.
  1. Xiuchun Zhang, Shirley Sato, Xiaohong Ye, Anne E. Dorrance, T. Jack Morris, Thomas E. Clemente, and Feng Qu. (2011) Robust RNAi-Based Resistance to Mixed Infection of Three Viruses in Soybean Plants Expressing Separate Short Hairpins from a Single Transgene. Phytopathology 101: 1264-1269.
  1. Lisa M Pytlik Zillig, Alan J Tomkins, Peter Muhlberger, Rosevelt L. Pardy, Thomas Jack Morris, Yuris A. Dzenis, Joseph A. Turner, Timothy P. Collins. 2011. Using Public Engagements to Provide Input and  Insights into Policy, Legal, Ethical, and Other Impacts of Science.  The International Journal of Science in Society 2: 273- 290.
  1. Cao, M., Ye, X., Willie K.,, Lin, J., Redinbaugh, M., Morris, TJ.,and Qu, F. 2010. The capsid protein of turnip crinkle virus overcomes two separate barriers to facilitate viral systemic movement in Arabidopsis. J Virology 84: 7793-7802.
  1. Powers, J.G., Sit, T.L., Qu, F., Morris, T.J., Kim, K-H., Lommel, S.A. 2008. A versatile assay for the identification of RNA silencing suppressors based on complementation of viral movement. MPMI 21, 879-890.
  1. Qu, F., Ye, X., and Morris, T.J. 2008. Arabidopsis DRB4, AGO1, and AGO7 participate in a DCL4-initiated antiviral RNA silencing pathway that is negatively regulated by DCL1. PNAS 105, 14732-14737 plus SI.
  1. Qu F and Morris T J. 2008. Carmovirus. Encyclopedia of Virology, 5 vols. (B.W.J. Mahy and M.H.V. Van Regenmortel, Editors), pp. 453-457 Oxford: Elsevier.
  1. Qu, F., and Morris, T.J. 2007. Plant virus silencing suppressors and RNA silencing in plants. Invited chapter A20710, Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, Wiley & sons, pp7.
  2. Stenger, DC., Young, BA., Qu, F., Morris, TJ & French, R. 2007. Wheat streak mosaic virus lacking HC-Pro is competent to produce disease synergism in mixed infections with Maize chlorotic mottle virus. Phytopathology 97: 1213-1221.
  1. Blake, J. A., Lee, K.W., Morris, T.J. and Elthon, T.E. 2007. Effects of turnip crinkle virus infection on the structure and function of mitochondria and expression of stress proteins in turnips. Physiologia Plantarum, 129: 698-706.
  1. Feng Qu, Xiaohong Ye, Guichuan Hou, Shirley Sato, Thomas E. Clemente and T. Jack Morris. 2005. RDR6 has a broad spectrum but temperature dependent antiviral defense role in Nicotiana benthamiana. J Virol., 79: 15209-15217.
  1. Ren, T., Qu, F., and Morris, T.J. 2005. The nuclear localization of the Arabidopsis transcription factor TIP is blocked by its interaction with the coat protein of Turnip crinkle virus. Virology 331, 316-324.
  1. Feng Qu and T. Jack Morris. 2005. Suppressors of RNA silencing encoded by plant viruses and their role in viral infections. FEBS Lett 579, 5958-5964.
  1. D. M. Pérez Filgueira, M. Mozgovoj, A. Wigdorovitz, M. J. Dus Santos, V. Parreño, K. Trono, F.M. Fernandez, C. Carrillo, T.J. Morris and  M.V. Borca . 2004. Passive Protection to Bovine Rotavirus (BRV) Infection Induced by a BRV VP8* Produced in Plants Using a TMV-based Vector. Arch Virol. 149, 2337-2348.
  1. Chang Won Choi, Feng Qu, Tao Ren, Xiaohong Ye and T. Jack Morris. 2004. The RNA silencing suppressor function of Turnip crinkle virus coat protein cannot be attributed to its interaction with the Arabidopsis protein TIP. J Gen Virol 85, 3415-3420.
  1. D. M. Pérez Filgueira, B. P. Brayfield, S. Phiri, M.V. Borca, C. Wood and T. J. Morris. 2004. Preserved antigenicity of HIV-1 p24 produced and purified in high yields from plants inoculated with a tobacco mosaic virus (TMV)-derived vector. J. Virological Methods 121, 201-208.
  1. D. M. Pérez Filgueira, P. Zamorano, M. Domínguez , O. Taboga,  P. Del Médico, A. Romera, T.J. Morris , M. V. Borca, and A. Sadir.  2003. Bovine Herpes Virus gD protein produced in plants using a recombinant TMV vector possesses authentic antigenicity. Vaccine 21, 4201-4209.
  1. Qu, F., Ren, T., and Morris, T.J. 2003. The coat protein of turnip crinkle virus suppresses posttranscriptional gene silencing at an early initiation step. J. Virol. 77: 511-522.
  1. Qu, F., and Morris, T.J. 2002. Efficient infection of Nicotiana benthamiana by Tomato bushy stunt virus is facilitated by the coat protein and maintained by p19 through suppression of gene silencing. MPMI 15: 193-202.
  1. Hall, J.S., French, R., Morris, T.J. & Stenger, D.C., 2001. Structure and temporal dynamics of populations within Wheat Streak Mosaic virus isolates. J. Virol., 75: 10231-10243.
  1. Hall, J.S., Stenger, D.C., Hein, G.L. Morris, T.J. and Stenger, D.C.  2001. Three distinct mechanisms facilitate genetic isolation of sympatric Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus lineage. Virology 282: 230-236.

Professional Preparation

1968 - McGill University
B.S. Plant Pathology

1970 - McGill University
M.S. Plant Pathology

1973 - University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ph.D. Plant Pathology

Professional Appointments

1975 – 1976    Assistant Professor
Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick

1976 – 1980    Assistant Professor
Plant Pathology, University of California Berkeley

1980 – 1986    Associate Professor
Plant Pathology, University of California Berkeley

1986 – 1990    Professor
Plant Pathology, University of California Berkeley

1990 – 2005    Director & Professor
School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2005 – Present Distinguished Professor
School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2007 – Present   Courtesy Professor
Dept of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Honors & Professional Activity

College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award - 2012

TO Hass Award from UNL School of Biological Sciences for Outstanding Teaching - 2012

National Academies Education Fellow in Life Sciences 2010-11.

Ruth Allen Award for Outstanding Research - American Phytopathological Society - 2005

TO Hass Award from UNL School of Biological Sciences for Outstanding Service - 2005

Fellow - American Association for the Advancement of Science - 1997

Fellow - American Phytopathological Society – 1995 (member since 1969)

Member - American Society of Virology (Charter member)

Member - Society for General Microbiology

Member - American Society of Microbiology

Editorial Board of Virology - since 1980

Distinguished Professor - 1990 - UNL College of Arts & Sciences

Sigma Xi Outstanding Scientist Award – 1995