Dr. M.S. Chatrath was born on July 8, 1931 in village Sayeed Kasran, District Rawalpindi West Punjab (now in Pakistan). His father Sardar Balwant Singh Chatrath was an eminent educationist, writer and social reformer of Punjab. He got his early education in Saiyid Potohar Khalsa School before joining Khalsa College at Amritsar. He obtained his B.Sc. (Hons-Botany) and M.Sc. (Hons-Botany) from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1954 and 1956 respectively. During his M.Sc. he worked on Polyporaceae of Mussoorie Hills under the able guidance of Prof. K.S. Thind.
In 1965, he completed his doctoral programme at IARI, New Delhi under guidance of Dr. S.P. Raychaudhuri. For his Post Doctorate programme he went to Texas A&M University, USA and worked with the world renowned Plant Pathologists, Dr. Stuart D Lyda on aspect of translocation of systemic fungicides 2-(4’-thiazolyl) Benzimidazole in plants in the year 1971-72. In 1971, he was placed in the Nuclear Research Laboratory, IARI to establish lab and initiate research programmes on the emerging area of nuclear science for plant pathology and agriculture. On introduction of ARS in 1974, he was placed as Senior Scientist and in 1991 he retired from services as Principal Scientist. During a span of more than 35 years of research in the field of mycology and plant pathology at IARI, he worked on smut of cereals, red rot of sugarcane, physiology of fungi and systemic fungicides. He was a pioneer in the field of nuclear techniques in plant pathology especially in use of ionizing radiations for control of pathogens and use of radioisotopes for studying translocation of systemic fungicides. As a faculty member of discipline of mycology and plant pathology, IARI, he was associated with a number of courses. The courses on techniques in plant pathology of which he was the course leader was appreciated highly among the students.
He pubished about 125 papers including invitational articles, editorials and chapters in book. His publications are in high impact factor journals as Euphytica, Mycopathlogia, Phytophalogy and many of them are cited in various research papers or/and books. He edited the book titled ‘Improving crop and animal producivity’ (Oxford and IBH Publishing Co.) and many research and technical bulletins. He was also associated with various international and national scientific bodies. He held the post of Council member of International Society of Plant Pathologists (1972-88).
His association with Indian Phytopathological Society was in various capacities such as treasurer (1971-73), member editorial board (1974-76), secretary (1977-79), editor (1983-84), chief editor (1985) and President (1992). Dr. Chatrath was also involved in organization of prestigious symposia as 2nd International Symposium on Plant Pathology, New Delhi, 1971 (Member organizing committee); of 3rd International symposium on Plant Pathology, 1981 (Organizing Secretary and Secretary National Steering Committee).
His contribution to area of nuclear techniques in agriculture was also in the form of being of founder member of Indian Society for Nuclear Techniques in agriculture and biology where he also held various prestigious positions as President, Secretary and Editor in Chief.
Dr. M.S. Chatrath, passed away for his heavenly abode on December 22, 2008.