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Name: Niranjan Baisakh
Title: Assistant Professor
Specialization: Molecular biology, Functional genomics
Department: School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences
Organization: LSU AgCenter
Address 1: 214 M.B. Sturgis Hall
Address 2: Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Phone Number: (225) 578-1300
Fax Number: (225) 578-1403


Ph. D. (Botany-Plant Biotechnology), 2000, Utkal University, India, Research conducted at the International Rice Research institute (IRRI), Philippines, and Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), India

M. S. in Agriculture (Plant Breeding and Genetics), 1993, Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), India

B. S. (Agriculture), 1990, OUAT, India

Areas of Specialization/Research

Plant (a)biotic stress 
Molecular biology
Functional genomics
Genetic engineering
Tissue culture and dihaploid breeding

Research in my group uses a holistic approach, integrating molecular biology and functional genomics tools, with an overarching goal of improving agronomic traits of interest in sugarcane and other commodities. Inexorable climate change scenarios would only exacerbate the edapho-environmental stressors that negatively impact the growth and productivity of field crops. Strategies to develop climate-resilient designer crops would depend on our depth of knowledge of the plant’s responses to these stressors at molecular, physiological and biological levels. Our research program involves basic molecular biology investigations in model plants to understand and identify the interplay of molecular genetic networks that regulate plant tolerance/adaptability to extreme environments. The knowledge generated from the basic research program will be translated to develop genetic tools to improve field crops, such as sugarcane, wheat, rice, cotton and sweetpotato.

DNA-based marker assisted breeding (MAB) will speed up conventional efforts to develop improved sugarcane varieties for the Louisiana sugar industry. Identification of stable molecular markers linked to a particular trait of interest, for example sucrose content, and biotic and abiotic stress resistance, is the key to a successful MAB. Recently, we have deployed molecular markers to understand genetic diversity in the Louisiana sugarcane gene pool – this information is currently being used in selection of parents for the crossing program to make sure maximum diversity is maintained to achieve heterosis in the progeny. Our research objectives are (1) to identify markers associated with high sucrose content using genomic selection – this will increase the accuracy of predicting phenotypes or genomic values of new breeding lines; and (2) to identify and implement markers for resistance to brown rust, leaf scald, and other imminent stressors through a combination of gene expression and genome/association mapping strategies.

Sugarcane, in addition to its importance as a sugar crop, has recently been regarded as an important second generation bioenergy grass (popularly known as energycane). However, for energycane to be a viable biofuel crop it should have the ability to produce high cellulosic biomass in marginal lands that are not suitable for commercial sugarcane cultivation. In Louisiana, the cultivation of sugarcane as dedicated biomass crop will have to be pushed northward, and energycanes will have to be cold tolerant. Our research aims to identify specific genes and gene-networks and decipher the genic regions that govern cold tolerance traits towards development of allele-specific functional markers. For this, early generation hybrids from the basic breeding program (collaborative effort of the USDA-ARS, Houma) will be used for QTL mapping and association genetics with cold-responsive gene-derived markers.

Similar experimental approaches will be used for development of molecular markers to complement wheat breeding program aimed at developing improved wheat cultivars with desirable agronomic traits of interest, such as herbicide tolerance, stripe rust resistance, Fusarium head blight etc.
Professional Experience

Assistant Professor, February 2013 - Present
Assistant Professor-Research, May 2008 - January 2013, LSU AgCenter
Postdoctoral Researcher, July 2004 - June 2007, LSU AgCenter
Project Scientist (Postdoctoral fellow), January 2000 - June 2004, IRRI, Philippines
Visiting Scientist, September 2001, Institute of Molecular Agrobiology (now Temasek Life Science Laboratory), Singapore
Research Scholar, November 1997 - December 1999, IRRI, Philippines
Research Scholar, May 1995 - October 1997, CRRI, India

Teaching Experience

I teach a graduate level course ‘Special Topics in Plant Breeding’ (AGRO 7073), which is intended to orient the students of the potential of genetics and plant breeding in crop improvement through discussion of latest journal publications on contemporary research.


Tipton Team Research Award, 2007, Louisiana State University AgCenter
Travel award from National science Foundation to attend the 2nd Pan American congress on plants and bioenergy, 2010

Referred journals

Khan N, Bedre R, Parco A, Bernaola L, Hale A, Kimbeng C, Pontif M, Baisakh N* (2013) Identification of cold responsive genes in sugar/energycane for their use in genetic diversity analysis and future functional marker development. Plant Science 211: 122-131.

Joshi R, Ramanarao MV, Baisakh N* (2013) Arabidopsis plants constitutively overexpressing a myo-inositol 1-phosphate synthase gene (SaINO1) from the halophyte smooth cordgrass exhibits enhanced level of tolerance to salt stress. Plant Physiology & Biochemistry 65: 61-66.

Effendy J, La Bonte D, Baisakh N* (2013) identification and expression of skinning injury responsive genes in sweetpotato. Journal of American Society of Horticultural Science 138: 1-7.

Baisakh N*, RamanaRao MV, Rajasekaran K, Subudhi P, Galbraith D, Jonda J, Vanier C, Pereira A (2012) Enhanced salt stress tolerance of rice plants expressing a vacuolar H+-ATPase subunit c1 (SaVHAc1) gene from a halophyte grass Spartina alterniflora Löisel. Plant Biotechnology Journal 10: 453-464.

Datta K, Baisakh N, Ganguly M, Krishnan S, Yamaguchi-Shinozaki K, Datta S (2012) Overexpression of Arabidopsis and rice stress inducible transcription factor confers drought and salinity tolerance to rice. Plant Biotechnology Journal 10: 579-586.

Suman A, Ali K, Arro J, Parco A, Kimbeng C, Baisakh N* (2012) Molecular diversity among members of the Saccharum complex assessed using TRAP markers based on lignin-related genes. Bioenergy Research 5: 197-204.

RamanaRao MV, Weindorf D, Breitenbeck G, Baisakh N* (2012) Differential expression of the transcripts of Spartina alterniflora Loisel (smooth cordgrass) induced in response to petroleum hydrocarbon. Molecular Biotechnology 51:18-26.

Lee S, Rajasekaran K, Ramanarao MV, Bedre R, Bhatnagar D, Baisakh N* (2012) Identifying cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) genes induced in response to Aspergillus flavus infection. Physiological & Molecular Plant Pathology 80:35-40.

Gravois K, Baisakh N, Waguespack H, Hoy J, Kimbeng C (2012) L 01-283 – Effects of Off-Types on Cane Yield, Sucrose Content and Fiber Content. Journal American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 32: 86.

Bertrand-Garcia SE, Knott CA, Baisakh N, Subudhi P, Harrison S, Materne M, Utomo H (2012) Selection of genetically diverse sea oats lines with improved performance for coastal restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Euphytica 185: 103-117.

Knott CA, Materne MD, Utomo H, Subudhi PK, Baisakh N, Harrison SA (2012) Registration of smooth cordgrass cultivars LA11-101, LA11-102, and LA11-103. Journal of Plant registrations 6: 252-258.

Knott CA, Materne MD, Subudhi PK, Baisakh N, Utomo H, Harrison SA (2012) Registration of sea oats cultivars LA12-201, LA12-202, and LA12-203. Journal of Plant registrations 6: 289-293.

Knott CA, Materne MD, Utomo H, Subudhi P, Baisakh N, Harrison SA (2012) Registration of ‘St. Bernard’, ‘Las Palomas’, and ‘Lafourche’ smooth cordgrass cultivars. Journal of Plant Registrations 7: 12-17.

Parco A, Arro JA, Patil SB , Bernaola L, Kimbeng CA, Baisakh N* (2011) Genetic diversity of commercial sugarcane cultivars of Louisiana analyzed using SSR markers. Journal of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 31: 59.

Subudhi P, Baisakh N* (2011) Spartina alterniflora Loisel., a halophyte grass model to dissect salt stress tolerance. In vitro Cell Developmental Biology – Plant 47: 441-457.

Rao MVR, Behera KS, Baisakh N*, Rao GJN (2009) Transgenic indica rice cultivar ‘Swarna’ expressing a potato chymotrypsin pin2 gene shows enhanced levels of resistance to yellow stem borer. Plant Cell Tissue & Organ Culture 99: 277-285.

Baisakh N*, Subudhi PK, Parco AP, Arumuganathan K, Harrsion SA, Knott C, Materne MD (2009a) Development and interspecific transferability of genic microsatellite markers in Spartina spp with different genome sizes. Aquatic Botany 91:262-266.

Baisakh N, Subudhi P (2009b) Heat stress alters the expression of salt stress induced genes in smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora L.). Plant Physiology & Biochemistry 47:232-235.

Baisakh N, Subudhi P, Varadwaj P (2008) Primary response to salt stress in a halophyte, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora Loisel). Functional & Integrative Genomics 8: 287-300.

Baisakh N, Subudhi P, Parami N (2006) cDNA-AFLP analysis reveals differential gene expression in response to salt stress in a halophyte Spartina alterniflora Loisel. Plant Science 170: 1141-1149.

* corresponding author

Book chapters

Batlang U, Baisakh N, Ambavaram MMR, Pereira A (2012) Phenotypic and Physiological evaluation for drought and salinity stress responses in rice. In “Rice Methods” Yinong Yang (ed), Humana Press. pp. 209-226.

Kang MS, Subudhi PK, Baisakh N, Priyadarshan PM (2007) Crop breeding methodologies: classic and modern. In “Breeding major food staples” MS Kang and PM Priyadarshan (eds), Blackwell publ. pp. 1-22.

Baisakh N, Datta SK (2007) Stem Borer Resistance: Bt Rice. In “Rice improvement in the Genomics Era” SK Datta (ed), Haworth publ. pp.139-177.

Other publications 

Hoy JW, Baisakh N, Kimbeng CK (2013) Breeding for disease resistance: Change is coming. Sugar Journal 75: 20-23.

Harrison SA, Baisakh N, Materne MD, Knott C, Subudhi P, Utomo HS (2007) Breeding native coastal plants: use in coastal wetland reclamation and preservation. Louisiana Agriculture 50: 18-19.

Subudhi P, Baisakh N, Sahoo D, Harrison SA, Materne M, Utomo HS (2007) Sea oats micropropagation aids in coastal restoration. Louisiana Agriculture 50: 20.

Subudhi P, Baisakh N, Harrison SA, Materne MD, Utomo HS (2007) Plant genetic diversity essential for a dynamic Louisiana coast. Louisiana Agriculture 50: 21.

Utomo HS, Materne MD, Harrison SA, Subudhi P, Baisakh N (2007) Improved marsh plants and seed-based propagation. Louisiana Agriculture 50: 22-23.

Baisakh N, Rajasekkaran, DeLeon T, Subudhi P (2009) Overexpression Of Myo-inositol phosphate synthase gene from a halophyte Spartina alterniflora confers salt tolerance in transgenic tobacco and rice. Poster presented in the XVII Plant and Animal Genome conference, January 10-14, San Diego, CA, USA.

Baisakh N, Subudhi PK (2008) Molecular Genomics and Genetics studies in Spartina alterniflora. Oral presentation in a one day symposium on the Current status on coastal wetlands plants and restoration, Nov 6, 2008, Crowley, LA, USA.

Baisakh N, Subudhi PK (2007) Genic microsatellite markers in Spartina species (Poaceae). Poster presented in the Crop Science Society of America Annual meeting, Nov 4-8, 2007, New Orleans, LA.

Baisakh N, Sahoo D, Subudhi P, Harrison S. Micropropagation of sea oats: implications in coastal restoration. Poster presented in the CREST and Sea Grant meeting on Advances in coastal restoration research, May 17, 2007. Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

Baisakh N, Subudhi P, Varadwaj P. Generation and analysis of expressed sequence tags of a grass halophyte Spartina alterniflora. Poster presented in the Plant and Animal Genome XV conference, January 13-17, 2007, San Diego, CA, USA.

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