Rajeev Kumar Varshney

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Rajeev Kumar Varshney
Head and face photo of Rajeev Kumar Varshney, big eyes, straight hair, smiling slightly
Born (1973-07-13)13 July 1973
Bahjoi, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
Residence India
Citizenship India
Fields Agriculture
Institutions ICRISAT
CIMMYT
The University of Western Australia
Alma mater IPK-Gatersleben, Germany
Chaudhary Charan Singh University Aligarh Muslim University
Doctoral advisor P K Gupta and P C Sharma
Known for Plant genomics, Crop biotechnology, Applied genomics, Molecular biology,
Genomics assisted breeding for semi arid tropic crops

Rajeev Kumar Varshney is a geneticist and Principal Scientist in Applied Genomics. He is currently working as Research Program Director in Grain Legumes and Director at the Centre of Excellence in Genomics, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru, India. He also worked with the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP), hosted at CIMMYT, Mexico as Theme Leader - Comparative and Applied Genomics (CAG) from 2007-2013.

Varshney has research experience in the area of plant genomics and crop biotechnology. He has interest in development and application of genomic tools and strategies for applied breeding of the legume and cereal crops of the semi-arid tropics.

Education and Professional career[edit]

Varshney received his Bachelor degree (B.Sc. Honours) in Botany and Masters degree in Botany (Genetics, Plant Breeding and Molecular Biology) from the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1993 and 1995 respectively. He then joined the laboratory of Professor P K Gupta at Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut, to work on a Wheat Biotechnology Project sponsored by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. Based on his work done on the project, he earned his doctoral degree (PhD) in Agricultural Botany (Molecular biology) in 2001.

After receiving PhD degree, Varshney took up an assignment of Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (Research Scientist) at Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics & Crop Plant Research (IPK), Gatersleben, Germany. He worked there for five years in the area of structural and functional genomics of barley and comparative genomics of cereals. He then accepted the assignment of Senior Scientist for Applied Genomics at ICRISAT in late 2005. While working at ICRISAT, he took up a half time appointment with Generation Challenge Programme, hosted at CGIAR CIMMYT, as SubProgramme Leader for SubProgramme 2- Genomics towards Gene Discovery in 2007. He was promoted to the position of Principal Scientist (Applied Genomics) at ICRISAT in 2008. He had a dual appointment with ICRISAT as Principal Scientist and GCP as SubProgramme Leader from 2007- 2013. In 2010, he was appointed as Adjunct Professor - Plant Biology in The University of Western Australia. In 2012, he was conferred Visiting Professorship at Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China and Adjunct Professorship at BGI Hong Kong Research Institute. In August 2013, he assumed new responsibilities as Research Program Director, Grain Legumes at ICRISAT.

Notable awards[edit]

Based on his research contribution, he has received several awards/ fellowships such as:

  • Elected Fellow of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) in 2014
  • The Greater Good Initiative Award in 2013 by Illumina Inc.[1]
  • Elected Fellow of Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), in 2010[2]
  • First NASI-Scopus Young Scientist Award in Agriculture in 2010 by National Academy of Science, India and Elsevier South Asia
  • INSA-Young Scientist Medal-2008 of Indian National Science Academy (INSA)
  • Associate Fellow (2008) of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India (NAAS)
  • Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award-2007 of National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI)
  • Promising Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award-2007 and 2008 by ICRISAT.

Significant contribution to crop genetics and breeding[edit]

While working in strategic collaboration with several partners around the world, he has made contribution including following:

  • genome sequence of chickpea[3]
  • genome sequence of pigeonpea[4]
  • genome sequence of sesame
  • genome sequence of groundnut
  • first generation of molecular breeding lines for drought tolerance, resistance to Fusarium and Ascochyta blight in chickpea and foliar diseases in groundnut
  • large-scale molecular markers like thousands of SSR and SNP markers in chickpea,[5][6] pigeonpea,[7] groundnut,[8][9] barley[10][11][12][13] and wheat[14]
  • the first or comprehensive genetic maps in chickpea,[6][15] pigeonpea,[7][16] groundnut[17]
  • gene-based markers and transcript maps in barley[11][18][19]
  • transcriptomic resources in chickpea,[20][21] pigeonpea[22][23] and barley[24][25]
  • identification of markers associated with drought tolerance related traits in chickpea, foliar diseases in groundnut[26]
  • identification of markers associated with grain quality traits (like protein content,[27][28] grain size[29] and pre-harvest sprouting tolerance[30][31]) in wheat
  • molecular breeding for drought tolerance in chickpea
  • molecular breeding for foliar disease resistance and oil quality traits in groundnut
  • bioinformatics tools and pipelines for genomics research[32] and breeding applications[33]

His efforts are greatly appreciated that have converted so-called ‘orphan legume crops’ in the genomics resource rich crops.[34][35]

International activities[edit]

Scientific contribution of Rajeev Varshney has been recognized at international level. For instance, at an early age, he started to serve Editorial Board of several journals like Theoretical and Applied Genetics, BMC Plant Biology, BMC Genetics, Molecular Breeding, Euphytica, Plant Breeding, Crop and Pasture Science, Plant Genetic Resources: Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, The Plant Genome. He has been a Guest Editor for Special Issue for several journals like Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Molecular Breeding and Plant Genetic Resources.

Rajeev has served Steering Committee/ Organizing Committee/ Programme Committee for several international conferences including FAO Conference on Application of Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC-10). He organizedVI International Congress on Legume Genetics and Genomics as a Chair.

Amongst several prestigious invitations for high-level meetings related to international agricultural research, Rajeev is privileged to speak in: (i) G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture on Open Data in Genomics and Modern Breeding for Crop Improvement, organized by US and UK Governments on behalf of G8 countries in the World Bank during April 29–30, 2013, (ii) a brainstorming session on Digital Revolution for Agriculture in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation chaired by Mr Bill Gates and select group of leading scientists of international reputations in July 2012, and (iii) a brainstorming session for developing the road map on use of genome sequence for pigeonpea improvement organized and invited by the then Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India in December 2011, and several others occasions.

Research projects and grants[edit]

Rajeev’s research has been funded by research grants from several international funding agencies like Generation Challenge Programme, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US National Science Foundation, Indo-German Science and Technology Centre and leading Indian funding organizations like Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Department of Biotechnology, and Department of Science & Technology.

Research publications[edit]

Rajeev has authored and published > 200 research papers/articles in the research journals. Some of these journals include Nature, Nature Biotechnology (three papers), PNAS, USA, Genome Biology, Trends in Plant Sciences, Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Trends in Biotechnology, The Plant Journal, Plant Cell & Environment], DNA Research, Plant Biotechnology Journal, Molecular Plant, Functional Integrative Genomics, Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Plant Breeding, Euphytica, etc.

List of Books[edit]

Rajeev has edited several books like Cereal Genomics, Model Plants, Crop Improvement, two volumes of Genomics-Assisted Crop Improvement namely Genomics Approaches and Platforms, Genomics Applications in Crops, and Root Genomics.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][not in citation given]
  2. ^ "CURRENT FELLOWS (as on 1.1.2014)". National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Varshney et al. (2013) Draft genome sequence of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) provides a resource for trait improvement. Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.2491
  4. ^ Varshney et al. (2011) Draft genome sequence of pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan), an orphan legume crop of resource-poor farmers. Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.2022
  5. ^ Gujaria et al. (2011) Development and use of genic molecular markers (GMMs) for construction of a transcript map of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L. Theor Appl Genet. 122:1577–1589.
  6. ^ a b Thudi et al. (2011) Novel SSR Markers from BAC-End Sequences, DArT Arrays and a Comprehensive Genetic Map with 1,291 Marker Loci for Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027275
  7. ^ a b Bohra et al. (2011) Analysis of BAC-end sequences (BESs) and development of BES-SSR markers for genetic mapping and hybrid purity assessment in pigeonpea (Cajanus spp.). BMC Plant Biology 11:56
  8. ^ Pandey et al. (2011) Advances in Arachis genomics for peanut improvement. Biotechnology Advance doi:10.1016/j.biotechadv.2011.11.001.
  9. ^ Cuc et al. (2008) Isolation and characterization of novel microsatellite markers and their application for diversity assessment in cultivated groundnut (Arachis hypogaea). BMC Plant Biology 8: 55
  10. ^ Close et al. (2009). Development and implementation of high-throughput SNP genotyping in barley. BMC Genomics 10:582
  11. ^ a b Kota et al. (2008) EST-derived single nucleotide polymorphism markers for assembling genetic and physical maps of the barley genome. Functional and Integrative Genomics 8: 223-233
  12. ^ Varshney et al. (2006). Genetic mapping and physical mapping (BAC-identification) of EST-derived microsatellite markers in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Theor Appl Genet 113: 239-250
  13. ^ Thiel et al. (2003) Exploiting EST databases for the development and characterization of gene-derived SSR-markers in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Theor Appl Genet 106: 411-422
  14. ^ Gupta et al. (1999) Molecular markers and their applications in wheat breeding. Plant Breeding 118: 369-390
  15. ^ Nayak et al. (2010) Integration of novel SSR and gene-based SNP marker loci in the chickpea genetic map and establishment of new anchor points with Medicago truncatula genome. Theor Appl Genet 120:1415–1441
  16. ^ Yang et al. (2011) First genetic map of pigeonpea based on Diversity Array Technology (DArT) markers. J Genet 90:103-109
  17. ^ Varshney et al. (2009) The first SSR-based genetic linkage map for cultivated groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.). Theor Appl Genet 118: 729-739
  18. ^ Stein et al. (2007) A 1000 loci transcript map of the barley genome- new anchoring points for integrative grass genomics. Theor Appl Genet 114: 823-839
  19. ^ Varshney et al. (2007) A high density barley microsatellite map with 775 SSR loci. Theor Appl Genet 114: 1091-1103
  20. ^ Hiremath et al. (2011) Large-scale transcriptome analysis in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), an orphan legume crop of the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa. Plant Biotech Jour 9:922–931
  21. ^ Varshney et al. (2009) A comprehensive resource of drought- and salinity- responsive ESTs for gene discovery and marker development in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) BMC Genomics 10:523
  22. ^ Dubey et al.(2011) Defining the transcriptome assembly and its use for genome dynamics and transcriptome profiling studies in pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.). DNA Research, doi:10.1093/dnares/dsr007
  23. ^ Raju et al. (2010). The first set of EST resource for gene discovery and marker development in pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.). BMC Plant Biology 10:45 Highly accessed
  24. ^ Guo et al.(2009)Differentially expressed genes between drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive barley genotypes in response to drought stress during the reproductive stage. Jour Experimental Botany 60:3531-3544
  25. ^ Zhang et al.(2004) Large-scale analysis of the barley transcriptome based on expressed sequence tags. The Plant Journal 40: 276-290
  26. ^ Sujay et al. (2011) Quantitative trait locus analysis and construction of consensus genetic map for foliar disease resistance based on two recombinant inbred line populations in cultivated groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.). Molecular Breeding doi:10.1007/s11032-011-9661-z
  27. ^ Singh et al.(2001) STMS markers for grain protein content and their validation using near isogenic lines in bread wheat. Plant Breeding 120: 273-278
  28. ^ Prasad et al. (1999) A microsatellite marker associated with a QTL for grain protein content on chromosome arm 2DL of bread wheat. Theor Appl Genet 99: 341-345
  29. ^ Varshney et al. (2000) Identification of eight chromosomes and a microsatellite marker on 1AS associated with QTL for grain weight in bread wheat. Theor Appl Genet 100: 1290-1294
  30. ^ Varshney et al. (2000) Characterization of microsatellites and development of chromosome specific STMS markers in bread wheat. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 18: 1-12
  31. ^ Roy et al. (1999) Identification of a microsatellite on chromosome 6B and a STS on 7D of bread wheat showing association with preharvest sprouting tolerance. Theor Appl Genet 99: 336-340
  32. ^ Jayashree et al.(2006) Laboratory Information Management Software for genotyping workflows: applications in high throughput crop genotyping. BMC Bioinformatics 7: 383 Highly accessed
  33. ^ Jayashree et al. (2006) A database of simple sequence repeats from cereal and legume expressed sequence tags mined in silico: survey and evaluation. In Silico Biol 6: 0054
  34. ^ Varshney et al. (2009) Orphan legume crops enter the genomics era! Curr Opin Plant Biol 12: 202–210
  35. ^ Varshney et al. (2013) Can genomics boost productivity of orphan crops?. Nature Biotechnology 30: 1172-1176