Joachim Messing, the director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 73.
Messing, as Rutgers notes in a statement, developed the tools needed for shotgun sequencing, which enabled the analysis of numerous plants and animals. In particular, the Times says scientists with the Human Genome Project used the technique to identify the roughly 20,000 genes in the human genome. Rutgers adds that Messing did not patent his work and instead made the tools available to all researchers.
"Jo's approach to the development of his DNA sequencing tools was to spread them freely and widely," Robert Goodman, the executive dean of agriculture and natural resources at Rutgers tells the Times. "He was an incredibly generous man."
The Times adds that Messing himself led a number of sequencing initiatives, including projects focused on crops like corn, rice, and sorghum. It notes that his findings aided the development of genetically engineered crops, such as crops that were more resistant to drought.