Joachim Messing is a biologist recognized for work in genomics and biotechnology. The shotgun DNA sequencing method and the M13mp/pUC/JM cloning kits made him the most frequently cited scientist in the world for the eighties. Messing made his innovations freely available, ensuring rapid advances in all life sciences. With contributions to plant genomics he focuses on raising the nutritional quality of food. Messing was born in Duisburg, Germany, in 1946, studied Pharmacy at the Free University of Berlin, and received his doctorate degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Biochemistry. After studies at the University of California at San Francisco and Davis, he rose through the faculty ranks at the University of Minnesota before becoming a University Professor of Molecular Biology at Rutgers and then the Director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, where he holds also the Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics. He was winner of the 2013 Wolf Prize in Agriculture and the 2014 Promega Biotechnology Award. Messing, a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement in Science and the American Academy of Microbiology, is a member of the US and the German National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Besides his early work in molecular biology Messing has focused on plant genetics. His laboratory has studied in particular genes that are expressed during the development of cereal seeds. He is well known for the genomic studies of grass genomes and his laboratory has contributed to the sequencing of rice, sorghum, maize, Brachypodium, and Spirodela. These genomic sequences have permitted his laboratory to study the organization and evolution of the genes that control the supply of proteins for nutrition. More recently, his laboratory has used RNA interference to study the role of these proteins in seed development and molecular breeding. One of the new initiatives of his laboratory investigates the potential of sweet sorghum and duckweed as alternative bio-energy sources. Publications are tagged in categories of Bioenergy, Epigenetics, Genome Evolution, Genome Structure, Protein Quality, RNAi, and Shotgun DNA Sequencing. Out of 200 publications prior to 2008 only representative samples are listed.