Department of Biological Sciences
I am pursuing research in different areas of plant functional and comparative genomics. I mostly use tropical bamboos and Brassicas as systems to address few yet unresolved mysteries of plant Biology. If successful, genes/pathways identified by these studies might be utilized in future for crop improvements. My specific research topics are:
(1) Role of gene duplication on the evolution of novel plants stress genes in Brassicaceae
(2) Identification of genes controlling unique flowering times in tree bamboos
(3) Functional genomics of fiber development in tree bamboo
(4) Evolution of parasitism in plants
B.Sc. (Hons.) in Botany, University of Kalyani (1994-1997)
M.Sc. in Botany, University of Kalyani (1997-1999)
Ph.D in Life Science, Jadavpur University/Bose Institute (2000-2005)
National Research Council Associate, US Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon, USA (2005-2008)
National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Tech, USA (2008-2009)
Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, Germany (2009-2012)
I obtained my B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in Botany from University of Kalyani, India. After that I had joined the laboratory of Prof. Amita Pal, Bose Institute, Kolkata to work on bamboo genetic diversity and molecular marker development. After completion of my Ph.D in 2005, I had received the prestigious US National Research Council Associateship award to work at US-Environmental Protection Agency, Oregon, USA. Subsequently, I had received the NSF postdoctoral award to work at Virginia Tech., USA and the German Alexander von Humboldt award to work at Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, Germany before joining Presidency University as an Assistant Professor.
Research / Administrative Experience+
I use a combination of in silico tools, wet-lab genomic technologies and genetic mutants to address few yet unanswered questions of Plant Biology. My specific research topics are:
(1) Role of gene duplication on the evolution of novel plants stress genes in Brassicaceae: Gene/genome duplication is a unique phenomenon in flowering plants by which they acquire functional innovation, particularly novel stress response genes. One extreme example is the crop species of Brassicas, which have undergone 3 round of whole genome duplication and additionally one round of whole genome triplication. A significant amount of these retained genes are related to various biotic and abiotic stresses, such as salt/ drought stresses and are undergoing functional divergence to acquire novel stress functions. No systematic efforts have been undertaken to check the consequence of such expansions/mutations on the emergence of novel stress response genes. The availability of very recently sequenced B. rapa/B. napus genome/transcriptomes now provides us the opportunity to address such questions. The specific research question that we are asking is what is the consequence of whole genome duplication and genome triplication on the evolution of novel stress response genes in Brassicaceae.
- Prof. Tapas Chandra Ghosh, Bioinformatics Center, Bose Institute. Kolkata;
- Dr. Georg Haberer, Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Germany
- Dr. Tony Schaeffner, Institute of Biochemical Plant Pathology, Germany
(2) Identification of genes controlling unique flowering times in tree bamboos: Bamboo is one of the most primitive members of the monocot plant family and possesses a unique flowering behavior, which ranges from 1-120 years. On the basis of the flowering cycle, bamboos have been categorized in three major groups: annual flowering, sporadic or irregular flowering and gregarious flowering. Of these, particular interests is on the gregarious flowering, where the onset of the reproductive phase occurs simultaneously in all the members of a cohort or species across a wide area and subsequently dies together. It is regarded as a bad omen in many of the Eastern Indian states due to enormous crop loss inflicted by an increase in rodent’s population. Although many of these ecological aspects of bamboo are known for decades, yet we know very little about the genes and pathways that regulate such a unique flowering behavior. A major objective of this study will be to identify the molecular players that control induction of flowering in tree bamboos, with major focus on tropical bamboos available in North East India.
- Prof. Amita Pal, FNASc., Division of Plant Biology, Bose Institute, Kolkata
(3) Evolution of parasitism in plants: My interest in parasitic plant Biology grew through my involvement in the Parasitic Plant Genome Project (http://ppgp.huck.psu.edu). In this project we have sequenced transcriptomes of three parasitic species and one non-parasitic relative in the Orobanchaceae with the goal of understanding genetic changes that had led plnat’s transition from autotrophic to parasitic life style. I would like to exploit the sequence information generated through this project to develop novel resistance strategies against the parasitic species predominant in Indian sub-continent.
Teaching / Other Experience+
I teach Plant Developmental Biology, Genetic Engineering, Plant Tissue Culture, Plant Biotechnology and Plant Molecular Biology at both UG and PG level.
Post Graduate Supervision+
Name of Research Group members:
1. Mr. Prasun Biswas (CSIR-UGC JRF awardee),
Start date: April, 2013-
Topic of research: Identification and molecular characterization of genes regulating flower induction in tree bamboos.
If you are interested to join my group, send me your concise resume through e.mail and mention which project you are mostly ineterested about.
1. Das, M and Pal, A. (2005) In vitro regeneration of Bambusa balcooa Roxb.: factors affecting changes of morphogenetic competence in the axillary buds. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture, 81: 109- 112.
2. Das, M., Bhattacharya, S. and Pal, A. (2005) Generation and Characterization of SCARs by Cloning and Sequencing of RAPD Products: A Strategy for Species-Specific Marker Development in Bamboo. Annals of Botany, 95: 835–841.
3. Bhattacharya, S.*, Das, M.*, Bar, R. and Pal, A. (2006) Morphological and Molecular Characterization of Bambusa tulda with a Note on Flowering. Annals of Botany 98: 529- 535 *equal contribution.
4. Das, M., Bhattacharya, S., Basak, J. and Pal, A. (2007) Phylogenetic relationships among the bamboo species as revealed by morphological characters and polymorphism analyses. Biologia Plantarum 51(4): 667-672.
5. Das, M.*, Bhattacharya, S., Singh, P., Filgueiras, T.S. and Pal, A. (2008) Bamboo taxonomy and diversity in the era of molecular markers. Advances in Botanical Research 47: 225-268 *corresponding author.
6. Bhattacharya, S., Ghosh, J.S., Das, M. and Pal, A. (2009) Morphological and molecular characterization of Thamnocalamus spathiflorus subsp. spathiflorus at population level. Plant Systematics and Evolution 282: 13-20.
7. Das, M., Reichman, J.R., Haberer, G., Welzl, G., Aceituno, F.F., Mader, M.T., Watrud, L.S., Pfleeger, T.G., Gutiérrez, R., Schäffner, A.R. and Olszyk, D. (2010) A composite transcriptional signature differentiates responses towards closely related herbicides in Arabidopsis thaliana and Brassica napus. Plant Molecular Biology 72(4-5):545-56.
8. Wickett, NJ., Loren, A.H., Wafula, E.K., Das, M., Huang, K., Wu, B., Timko, M.P., Yoder, J., Westwood, J. and dePamphilis, C.W. (2011) Expression of the chlorophyll synthesis pathway in a non-photosynthetic plant revealed by the transcriptomes of above ground structures from three parasitic plants from the family Orobanchaceae. Current Biology 21: 2098-2104.
9. Westwood, J.H., dePamphilis, C.W., Das, M., Fernández-Aparicio, M., Honaas, L.A., Timko, M.P., Wickett, N.J. and Yoder, J.I. (2012) The Parasitic Plant Genome Project: New Tools for Understanding the Biology of Orobanche and Striga. Weed Science 60: 295-306.
10. Zhang, Y., Fernandez-Aparicio, M., Wafula, E., Das, M., Jiao, Y., Wickett, N.J., Honaas, L.A., Ralph, P.A., Wojciechowski, M.F., Timko, M.P., Yoder, J.I., Westwood, J.H., and dePamphilis, C.W. (2013) A horizontally acquired legume gene, albumin 1, in the parasitic plant Phelipanche aegyptiaca and related species. BMC Evolutionary Biology 13:48