The research in my lab focuses on deciphering the gene net-work governing Pythium resistance in Zingiber zerumbet and to translate the information gathered in improving soft rot resistance in cultivated ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.), which is a major spice crop in India. Major hurdle in ginger production is the soft rot disease caused by the soil-borne necrotrophic oomycete Pythium spp. Improving disease resistance in ginger is really challenging. Because, all ginger cultivars available today for farmer's cultivation are susceptible to Pythium and any breeding methods involving sexual hybridization is ineffective as ginger is obligatory asexual, propagated exclusively through rhizomes. Earlier we identified Pythium resistance in certain accessions of Zingiber zerumbet (L.) Smith, a wild congener of cultivated ginger, and prospected the resistant accessions using different genomics tools. We identified robust expression reprogramming of certain key defense related pathways in Z. zerumbet. A comparative genomics approach further helped us to identify pathways that are differently modulated in cultivated ginger as compared to Z. zerumbet. We are now interested in pathway targeted priming of cultivated ginger and evaluate the extent and durability of such priming in managing soft disease in ginger.
We are also interested in understanding the phylogenetic position and biochemical profile of the ancient Indian medicinal and health rice njavara (Oryza sativa landrace Njavara). Njavara (shashtika in Sanskrit), which is mentioned in ancient Ayurveda treatises like Charakasamhita, is used in several Ayurveda preparations and health food formulations since time immemorial. Our interest on Njavara is twofold. Its ancientness renders it as a suitable material to study crop domestication events and on farm evolutionary dynamics. Traditional claims on the medicinal and nutritive attributes of Njavara prompt to prospects its grains for novel traits for the nutritional improvements of rice. We developed a gene bank of Njavara and characterized the genetic structure and elucidated its phylogenetic position in global rice gene pool. We now focus on high throughput metabolomics and proteomics of Njavara grains.
Previous/ Completed Research Grants
Delineation and characterization of defense signaling pathways and genetic regulation of induced systemic resistance in Zingiber-Pythium pathosystems.
Department of Biotechnology [DBT] 2018-2022
De novo transcriptome sequencing, microarray development and elucidation of Pythium responsive defense pathways in Zingiber zerumbet (L.) Smith
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] 2015-2017
Development of rice varieties for Kerala with pyramided genes for resistance to BLB by marker assisted selection.
Department of Biotechnology [DBT] 2013-2019
Prospecting Zingiber zerumbet for molecular resources
Department of Biotechnology [DBT] 2010-2013
DNA barcoding of the selected genera of family Zingiberaceae: Alpinia, Zingiber and Globba
Department of Biotechnology [DBT] 2007-2010
Circumscription of medicinal rice njavara from other traditional rice in Kerala following microsatellite assisted fingerprinting
Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment [KSCSTE] 2008-2011
DNA fingerprinting and evaluation of wild Zingiber spp. from Western ghats, a valuable source of horticultural traits and medicine
Kerala Forest Department 2005-2008
Gene bank of traditional medicinal rice strains from Western ghats: collection and DNA finger printing
Western Ghats Development Programme [WGDP] 2005-2008
Molecular marker assisted genotyping and genetic structural studies of genetic resource collections in njavara, a traditionally used medicinal rice (Oryza sativa L.) in Kerala, India
International Foundation for Science, Sweden 2004-2007
Improvement of selected spices through biotechnology tools: black pepper, cardamom, ginger, vanilla
Department of Biotechnology [DBT] 2001-2005
Identification and evaluation of bioactive peptides: A biotechnological approach towards controlling fungal pathogen of quick wilt disease of black pepper
Indian Council of Agricultural Research 2001-2004
Clonal seed orchard management for higher seed productivity
Kerala Forest Department 2000-2002