Naveenkumar Athiyannan

Position: PhD student
Place of Birth: Salem, Tamil Nadu, INDIA
Languages: Tamil, English
Scholarships: International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS), University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship (UQ-Cent)
Advisors: Dr Lee HickeyDr Sambasivam PeriyannanDr Evans Lagudah



Wheat is one of the primary agricultural and food crop grown in Australia, India and worldwide countries. Rust disease caused by the obligate fungus Puccina sp. is a serious constrain affecting wheat cultivation. In recent years, due to the emergence and spread of highly virulent races, the disease pose a major threat to global food security. One of the prime solutions to manage rust disease is to introduce host mediated genetic resistance, a sustainable and environmentally safe method which is followed worldwide. Wild related species of cultivated wheat are valuable source for novel resistance. Hence my PhD research is focused on characterisation of broad spectrum rust resistance from wild relatives of cultivated wheat.

Naveenkumar Athiyannan's CSIRO link:


  1. Mapping of stripe and stem rust resistance in Aegilops tauschii accession CPI110672
  2. Characterization of allelic variants of stem rust resistance gene Sr22 from Triticum monococcum and T. boeoticum accessions.
  3. Marker assisted pyramiding of stem rust resistance genes Sr33, Sr45 and Sr50 derived from Ae. tauschii and Secale cereale, respectively.

Research outlook

Using segregating mapping population and bulk segregant analysis (BSA) analysis, chromosome location and the molecular markers linked with stripe and stem rust resistance in CPI110672 were identified. Comparative genomic analysis is performed to fine map and eventually for map based isolation of the targeted resistance.

Allelic variants of Sr22 are identified from the screening of stem rust resistant T. monococcum and T. boeoticum accessions. Functional characterisation will be performed using tobacco leaf infiltration and cell death assays.

Pyramiding of the three broad spectrum stem rust resistance genes is performed through inter-crossing and selection of recombinants with gene combinations will be done using gene specific markers.

Selected publications

Riaz A, Athiyannan N, Periyannan S, Afanasenko O, Mitrofanova O, Aitken E, Lagudah E, Hickey L (2016). Mining Vavilov’s treasure chest of wheat diversity for adult plant resistance to Puccinia triticina. Plant Disease (In press)

Sakthi AR, Naveenkumar A, Deepikha PS, Balakrishnan N, Kumar KK, Kokila Devi E, Balasubramani V, Arul L, Singh PK, Sudhakar D, Udayasuriyan V, Balasubramanian P (2015) Expression and inheritance of chimeric cry2AX1 gene in transgenic cotton plants generated through somatic embryogenesis. In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, (In press)

Jayaprakash SP, Nandeesha P, Sozhavendan AE, Naveenkumar A, Illakiya Priya A, Balakrishnan N, Balasubramani V, Singh PK, Sudhakar D, Balasubramanian P, V Udayasuriyan (2014) Expression of a Novel Synthetic cry gene of Bacillus thuringiensis in Transgenic Tobacco Confers Resistance to Helicoverpa armigera and Spodoptera litura. Journal of Pure and Applied Microbiology, 8(6): 4687-4692

Lenina NK, Naveenkumar A, Sozhavendan AE, Balakrishnan N, Balasubramani V, Udayasuriyan V (2014) Characterization of parasporin gene harboring Indian isolates of Bacillus thuringiensis. 3Biotech, 4:545-551


  • Selected and participated in Summer School on Plant-Microbe Interactions at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK
  • Crawford Fund Scholarship funded by Crawford Fund, Australia
  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) funded by the Department of Education, Australia
  • University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship (UQ-Cent) funded by The University of Queensland, Australia