National Institute of Plant Genome Research
Digital India     
    Dr. Jyothilakshmi Vadassery
    Staff Scientist III
    Tel: 91-11-26741612,14,17 Ext. - 107
    Direct - 26735107
    Fax: 91-11-26741658
 Academic Background
Post Doctoral Fellow (2010-2014) : Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany
Post Doctoral Associate (2009-2010) : Cornell University, USA
Ph. D. (2006-2009) : Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany
M. Sc. (2003-2005) : Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi
B. Sc. (1998-2002) : Kerala Agricultural University, Padannakkad
 Awards and Fellowships
2016: SERB Early Career Research Award
Head of Max Planck Society -DST Partner Group, 2015
Wilhelm-Pfeffer-Stiftung prize, German Botanical Society, awarded for best paper in 2010
Max Planck Society Postdoctoral Fellowship
DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Postdoctoral Fellowship
Ph. D. with "summa cum laude", Friedrich Schiller University, Germany
Fellowship of International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Ph. D.
Junior Research Fellowship (JRF), Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR)
 Research Interest

Plant-insect defense pathways, Calcium signaling, Jasmonic acid signaling, Root-fungal symbiosis
  • DST (India) and Max Planck Society (Germany) for 'MPG-DST Partner Group' 2015
 Research Area
1) Mechanisms underlying plant perception of insect attack

More than 1 million herbivorous insect species are known, and many lead to crop loss worldwide. Plants have evolved sophisticated defense mechanism to counteract herbivorous insect. Majority of these defenses are co-ordinated by jasmonic acid (JA) dependent signaling cascade. The early events in plant perception of insect attack is largely unexplored and involves a) recognition of herbivore associated molecular pattern (HAMPs) derived from saliva, regurgitate or oviposition fluid of insects, b) Recognition of damaged associated molecular pattern (DAMP) occurring due to a specific pattern of wounding.  Using generalist chewing insect Spodoptera littura (cut worm / leaf caterpillar) and its host plant species, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, rice (Oryza sativa), and cotton, we intend to answer the following research questions: 

a) How plants sense insect attack rapidly?
Unidentified plant receptors are involved in rapid sensing of insect elicitors (HAMPs). One of the earliest signaling events upon this elicitor-receptor interaction is rapid change in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration which is also crucial for downstream responses. Insect herbivory consists of two components where Ca2+ could act- 1) On perception of elicitors present in oral secretion (OS) of insects, 2) On the perception of phytohormones released upon herbivory. Role of Ca2+ at multiple points of herbivory perception, identification of plant receptors for HAMP and DAMP perception in plants, role of Ca2+ in jasmonate perception are focus areas of our research

b) Which early signaling genes are involved in herbivory-induced signal transduction, and how do they function?
Functional analysis of candidate genes, their crosstalk with downstream phytohormone and secondary metabolite signaling pathways. Identify common, conserved defense pathways upon insect perception in monocot and dicot plants and study how specificity is maintained.

c)  What makes an intelligent plant: How plants activate systemic signaling upon herbivory?
Key to the success of plant defense against voraciously feeding insects are the need for local and systemic communication between cells. Plants possess a rapid systemic stress signaling system in the absence of a central nervous system as in animals. Changes in electrical signal, membrane potential, and Ca2+ are possible causes of systemic signaling in herbivory. Molecular components involved in production systemic signals, the factor that moves from leaf to leaf and decoding mechanisms are our areas of interest.

Research objective: To understand the molecular mechanism by which plants defend themselves against wide array of insect herbivores, and to use this knowledge in developing insect control strategies. We use forward and reverse genetics approach, biochemical /analytical techniques, and imaging to expedite novel discoveries in plant defense against insect herbivory.

2) Mechanisms of plant-microbial symbiont recognition:

Mutualistic relationships between the plant roots and the microbes that inhabit the rhizosphere are crucial factor in plant survival as they aid in improving plant growth and overcome stress. The endophytic fungi, Piriformospora indica colonises the roots of many plant species including Arabidopsis thaliana and promotes their growth, development and seed production. The fungus stimulates nutrient uptake and confers resistance to various biotic and abiotic stresses. Using plant growth promoting fungus, Piriformopsora indica and its hosts, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, rice (Oryza sativa), and its wild relatives, we intend to answer the following research questions: 

a)  How is the microbial symbiont recognized by roots of different plant species?
b) How is the plant perception of microbial symbionts different from pathogens?
b) Which are the key fungal genes involved in the successful plant root colonization, and how do they execute their functions?
d) Does the microbial symbiont provide systemic resistance against insect herbivory?

Research objective: To understand the molecular mechanisms by which symbiotic fungi in roots provide growth advantage to whole plants and utilize the knowledge to develop novel strategies to improve crop yields.
 Group Members
Dr. Mukesh Kumar Meena
Dr. Anish Kundu
Ms. Deepika Mittal
Ph. D. Student
Mr. Ramgopal Prajapati
Ph. D. Student
Ms. Deepthi Krishna
Ms. Shruthi Mishra
Mr. Pradeep Kumar Maurya Lab attendant
  • Dr. Wilhelm Boland, Dr.Axel Mithofer (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany)
  • Dr. Ralf Oelmuller (Institute of General Botany and Plant Physiology, FSU Jena, Germany)
  • Dr. Edgar Pieter (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany)
Interested to join our lab?

Highly motivated researchers who would like to join the lab are welcome to contact the PI for masters research, research associate or senior research fellow positions.
 Selected Research Publications
Jogawat, A., Vadassery, J., Verma, N., Oelmüller, R., Dua, M., Nevo, E., Johri A.K. (2016) PiHOG1, a stress regulator MAP kinase from the root endophyte fungus Piriformospora indica, confers salinity stress tolerance in rice plants. Sci. Rep. 6, 36765; doi: 10.1038/ srep36765.
Scholz SS, Reichelt M, Vadassery J, Mithöfer A.(2015) Calmodulin-like protein CML37 is a positive regulator of ABA during drought stress in Arabidopsis. Plant Signal Behav. 2015;10(6):e1011951.
Kiep V, Vadassery J, Lattke J, Maaß JP, Pieter E, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2015) Systemic cytosolic Ca2+ elevation is activated upon wounding and herbivory in Arabidopsis. New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.13493.
Scholz SS, Reichelt M, Vadassery J, Mithöfer A (2015) Calmodulin-like protein CML37 is a positive regulator of ABA during drought stress in Arabidopsis. Plant Signaling and Behaviour 10(6): e1011951. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2015.1011951..
Jisha V, Dampanaboina L, Vadassery J, Mithöfer A, Kappara S, Ramanan R (2015) Overexpression of an AP2/ERF type transcription factor OsEREBP1 confers biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in rice. PLoS One 10(6): e0127831.
Meena MK, Vadassery J (2015) Channels hold the key: cyclic nucleotide gated channels (CNGC) in plant biotic stress signaling. Endocytobiosis & Cell Research 26: 25-30.
Vadassery J,* Reichelt M, Jimenez-Aleman GH, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2014) Neomycin inhibition of (+)-7-iso-jasmonoyl-L-isoleucine accumulation and signaling. Journal of Chemical Ecology doi:10.1007/s10886-014-0448-7. (*Co−corresponding author).
Michal Johnson J, Reichelt M, Vadassery J, Gershenzon J, Oelmüller R (2014) An Arabidopsis mutant impaired in intracellular calcium elevation is sensitive to biotic and abiotic stress. BMC Plant Biology 14: 162.
Scholz S, Vadassery J, Heyer M, Reichelt M, Bender K, Snedden W, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2014) Mutation of the Arabidopsis Calmodulin-like protein CML37 deregulates the jasmonate pathway and enhances susceptibility to herbivory. Molecular Plant. doi:10.1093/mp/ssu102.
Ranjan A, Vadassery J, Patel HK, Pandey A, Palaparthi R, Mithöfer A, Sonti VR (2014) Upregulation of jasmonate biosynthesis and jasmonate-responsive genes in rice leaves in response to a bacterial pathogen mimic.  Functional and Integrative Genomics Journal.doi 10.1007/s10142-014-0426-8
Vadassery J, Reichelt M, Hause B, Gerzhenzon J, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2012) CML42 mediated calcium signaling regulates plant defense against Spodoptera herbivory and multiple stress in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology  159: 1159-1175.
Vadassery J, Reichelt M, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2012) Direct proof of ingested food regurgitation by Spodoptera littoralis caterpillars during feeding on plants. Journal of Chemical Ecology 38: 865-872.
Vadassery J, Scholz SS, Mithöfer A (2012) Multiple calmodulin-like proteins in Arabidopsisare induced by insect-derived (Spodoptera littoralis) oral secretion. Plant Signaling and Behaviour  doi:10.4161/psb.21664
Yilamujiang A, Vadassery J, Boland W, Mithöfer A (2012) Calmodulin-like proteins, CMLs: New players in plant defense regulation.  Endocytobiosis & Cell Research 22: 66-69.
Camehl I, Drzewiecki C, Vadassery J, Shahollari BS, Sherameti I, Munnik T, Hirt H, Oelmüller R (2011) The OXI1 Kinase Pathway Mediates Piriformospora indica-Induced Growth Promotion in Arabidopsis. PLoS Pathogens 7(5): e1002051. doi:10.1371
Vadassery J, Ranf S, Drzewiecki C, Mithöfer A, Mazars C, Scheel D, Lee J, Oelmüller R (2009) A cell wall extract from the endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica promotes growth of Arabidopsis seedlings and induces intracellular calcium elevation in roots. The Plant Journal. 59(2): 193-206.
Vadassery J and Olemuller R (2009) Calcium signaling in pathogenic and beneficial plant microbe interactions: What we can learn from Piriformospora indica and Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Signalling and Behaviour4(11): 1-4.
Vadassery J, Tripathi S, Prasad R, Verma A, Oelmüller R (2009) Ascorbate, monodehydroascorbate reductase3 and 2 are crucial for the mutualistic interaction between Piriformospora indica and Arabidopsis. J Plant Physiol. 166(12): 1263-1274.
Vadassery J, Ritter C, Venus Y, Camehl I, Varma A, Shahollari B, Novák O, Strnad M, Ludwig-Müller J, Oelmüller R (2008) The role of auxins and cytokinins in the mutualistic interaction between the Arabidopsis and Piriformospora indica. Mol. Plant Microb. Interact. 21(10): 1371-1383.
Jyothilakshmi V, Singh A, Gaikwad K, Vinod K, Singh NK and SMS Tomar (2008) RNA editing in CMS wheat: Influence of nuclear background leads to differential editing on orf256. Indian J. Genet. 68(4): 353-359.
Shahollari B, Vadassery J, Varma A, Oelmüller R (2007) A leucine-rich repeat protein  is required for growth promotion and enhanced seed production mediated by the endophytic  fungus Piriformospora indica in Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant Journal 50(1): 1-13.