Shashi Kumar Rhode

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Shashi Kumar Rhode – PhD
Group Leader, Metabolic Engineering
Integrative Biology Group
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg,110 067 New Delhi, India.
E-mail: skrhode@icgeb.res.in

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Education
University of Delhi South Campus, Department of Genetics, New Delhi, India, PhD, 1998
University of Delhi North Campus, Department of Botany, New Delhi, India, MPhil, 1994
India Institute of Technology (IIT), Biosciences and Biotechnology, MSc, 1991

Career History
2011, Research Scientist, Synthetic Biology and Biofuel Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, India
2009-2011, Research Scientist, Malaria Group, ICGEB New Delhi, India
2006-2009, Scientist, Yulex Corporation and USDA-ARS, CA, USA
2005-2006, Scientific Consultant, Hi-Genomics, LLC, USA
2005-2006, Assistant Specialist, UC Berkeley, CA, USA
2001-2005, Research Associate, UCF, FL, USA
1998-2001, Research Associate, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA

Scientific Activity
In metabolic engineering to produce anticancer and antimalarial drugs; algal biofuel technology; genes stacking and site specific recombination; bioinformatics and DNA barcoding for genetic identification of species; nuclear/chloroplast engineering of crops with transcription factors

Algal-based biofuel technology; engineering of algae for producing higher lipid and biomass. Metabolic engineering of chloroplasts for biosynthesis of antimalarial drug artemisinin. Metabolic engineering of guayule to enhance hypoallergic latex. 

Research Description
Algal Biofuel Technology The choice of algal strains with fast growth and high lipid content can be used to reduce the production cost of biofuel. However, after decades of searching for robust microalgal strains, there has been no such strain reported yet. Therefore, we are interested to use genetic engineering tools for generating an ideal strain with favorite characteristics that can be explored to produce an economically viable biofuel on a commercial scale. The production of biodiesel from microalgae is now underway in many countries, demonstrating its potential as our future energy source. Currently, we are involved in enhancing the lipid (triacylglycerol content) in marine algae as a biofuel feedstock. Several types of biofuels can be produced from triacylglycerol-containing feedstocks. For example, biodiesel (mono-alkyl esters) by transesterification of the algal-oil or renewable diesel by hydrodeoxygenation of oil, which is similar to petroleum-derived diesel fuel. Thus, increasing the lipid feedstocks by engineering algal strains is our prime target for making algae as an economically viable source for biofuel production. The Department of Biotechnology and Reliance Industries Limited provide the financial support for this work.

Metabolic Engineering for Drug Biosynthesis Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are considered to be most effective against drug-resistant malaria. The yield of artemisinin is low from native plant Artemisia annua. Therefore, we are interested to explore the biosynthesis of artemisinin in an alternative plant system by transforming the chloroplast genome with the mevalonate pathway and the nuclear genome with the artemisinin biosynthesis pathway. To execute this, we have generated transplastomic-MEV plants (with mevalonate pathway) via a biolistic method that produces excess pools of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP). To divert this higher pool of IPP into artemisinin, we have retransformed the transplastomic-MEV plants with the Agrobacteriumcarrying artemisinin biosynthesis pathway. Double transformed (DT) tobacco plants were produced showing variable amount of artemisinin. These plants grew normally, flowered and set seed like wildtype plants in the greenhouse. DT tobacco plants, due to higher biomass and rapid growth, are able to produce a consistent, reliable and low-cost supplementary source of drugs for ACTs, needed for antimalarial treatment in India. This work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science & Technology, India.

Metabolic Engineering for Hypoallergenic Latex We are interested in genetic engineering chloroplasts as well as nuclear genome of guayule to enhance the yield of natural rubber by removing the monomer substrate limitation. Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is an important commercial crop of the rubber industry and its rubber is distinct from Hevea brasiliensis rubber due to its hypoallergenic properties (allergy causing proteins are absent). This work is supported by Panaridus Inc. USA and by The Ohio State University, in collaboration with Prof. Katrina Cornish, OSU, USA. 

Publications
Truan, S., Kumar, S., Cornish, K. (2014) Photosynthetic response of in vitro guayule plants in low and high lights and the role of non-photochemical quenching in plant acclimation. Industrial Crops and Products In press
Shao, M., Kumar, S., Thomson, J.G. (2014) Precise excision of plastid DNA by the large serine recombinase Bxb1. Plant Biotech J doi: 10.1111/pbi.12139 In press PubMed link
Saxena, B., Subramaniyan, M., Malhotra, K., Bhavesh, N.S., Potlakayala, S.D., Kumar, S. 2014. Metabolic engineering of chloroplasts for artemisinic acid biosynthesis and impact on plant growth. J Biosci 39, 1-9
Ahmad, I., Fatma, Z., Yazdani, S., Kumar, S. (2013) DNA barcode and lipid analysis of new marine algae potential for biofuel. Algal Res 2, 10-15 

Group members

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Nitin Keshari – PhD

Research Associate
E-mail : nitindna@gmail.com.
Area of work: Algal flocculation and harvesting: auto-flocculation, bio-flocculation, chemical flocculation, magnetic flocculation, genetic flocculation.
We are targeting to develop a novel harvesting methods using integrated approaches of different modes of flocculation i.e. auto-flocculation, bio-flocculation, chemical, magnetic and genetic based flocculation.

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Amit Kumar Singh – M.Sc & M.Tech

Senior Research Fellow
E-mail : amitbotkgp@gmail.com.
Hobby: Badminton.
Area of work: Algae biotechnology.
My research is centered around the genetic engineering approaches to create ideal strains for Algal-based biofuel production.

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Ms. Prachi Nawkarkar – M.Sc.Biotechnology

JRF (UGC-JRF)
E-mail : nprachi2503@gmail.com.
Area of work: Chloroplast engineering in green algae.
I am currently working on a fresh water green algal isolate, to determine its utility as a biofuel feedstock, in order to increase its biofuel efficiency through chloroplast transformation.

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Vipul Swarup Bhatnagar – M.Tech.Biotechnology

Junior Research Fellow
E-mail : vipul140492@gmail.com.
Area of work: Isolation of algal cell and Biodiesel Production.
I am currently working on designing of new cost effective method for biodiesel production from Algal culture at industrial prospect and also isolation of most adaptable freshwater strain.

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Amita Tanwar – M.Tech.Environmental Studies

Pre doctoral Fellow
E-mail : amita@icgeb.res.in.
Area of work: Metabolic engineering in microalgae
I am interested in engineering metabolic pathways of microalgae especially marine species, with an emphasis on chloroplast engineering.

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