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Brief Profile of the Awardee


Dr Rajeev Kumar Varshney

  • 2015
  • Biological Sciences
  • 13/07/1973
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Breeding (Crop Improvement)
Award Citation:

Dr Varshney has made outstanding contributions in the area of crop genomics and molecular breeding particularly in decoding the genomes of important legume crops such as chick pea, pigeon pea. The genomic resources that he has developed are being used in breeding improved crop varieties that are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses.

Academic Qualifications:
Thesis and Guide details:
Details of CSIR Fellowship/ Associateship held, if any or from other sources/ agencies.
Significant foreign assignments:
(a) Significant contributions to science and/ or technology development by the nominee based on the work done in India during most part of last 5 years:
As a team leader and primary driver, Rajeev Varshney worked from India to lead international teams of researchers to sequence genomes of pigeonpea and chickpea and published them in as the first and corresponding authors in Nature Biotechnology in 2012 and 2013. This is a very laudable achievement of an Indian scientist while working in India. As a leader, he developed a several superior lines/(future varieties) with: (i) enhanced drought tolerance in chickpea, (ii) enhanced individual or combined resistance to Fusarium wilt and Ascochyta blight in chickpea, (iii) enhanced rust resistance in groundnut. The nominee-led team comprising of Indian researchers in collaboration with other organizations developed large-scale genomic resources such as several thousand molecular markers, high-density marker genotyping platforms, several million transcript sequences, development of over 20 genetic maps including the first genetic map of groundnut, first generation map of pigeonpea, the most comprehensive genetic map as well as the first genotyping-by-sequencing based map (first time for any crop in India) of chickpea, high density consensus map in groundnut. Majority of the above mentioned work has been published in many international journals under the primary/corresponding authorship of Rajeev. In brief, Rajeev’s efforts have elevated ‘orphan legume crops' to ‘genomic resources-rich’ legume crops Because of these contributions, Rajeev is frequently invited at international platforms that are enhancing the visibility of Indian genome science. Some of the opportunities where he has been able to showcase work done in India includes: (i) G8 Open Data Meeting (World Bank, USA, 2013), (ii) Brain-storming on digital design, chaired by Mr Bill Gates (USA, 2012), and (iii) FAO- Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology (Mexico, 2010). In addition he is an invited speaker and/or chair for sessions in many well-respected international genomics/legume conferences. He is also enhancing visibility of Indian science by serving Editorial Board of several international journals, review panels of several international funding agencies as well as organizing/ steering committees of international conferences. He is making significant contribution to advance genome science in India. For instance, > 287 breeders and >75 MSc/PhDs/Post-docs have been trained at his centre in the area of molecular breeding. He has organized several international conferences in India in the areas of genomicsassisted crop breeding, next generation sequencing and legume genomics which have greatly benefited students and scientists working in India. Rajeev has been a prolific author with publication of >280 widely read and cited articles in well-respected and high impact factor journals including Nature, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS, etc. His citation index is > 12600 and h-index is 51 with two of his papers with >1000 citation each. He has published ten edited books with Springer, Kluwer and CRC Press. Because of his outstanding contribution to biological/agricultural science, he has been conferred several prestigious awards including election as a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), India and Crop Young Scientist Award by the Crop Science Society of America. In my opinion, he is a very -deserving candidate for the SS Bhatnagar Award.
(b) Impact of the contributions in the field concerned:
Rajeev Varshney belongs to the category of only few scientists, who has made significant impact in both, basic science as well as applied research of highest quality. Some examples are listed below: Basic science: Genome sequencing of several crops (chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, sesame, mungbean, Azuki bean and pearl millet) that he led has provided basic resources to the scientific community to understand genome architecture, advance genetics, physiology and breeding research at molecular level. Similarly re-sequencing projects that he is leading has provided millions of structural variations to use as genetic signatures for understanding domestication and genome evolution studies by both geneticists as well as evolutionary biologists. Transcriptome and functional genomics studies carried out in the lab of Rajeev Varshney have shed light on functional variation and quantification effects of genes involved in different metabolic pathways. Some recent work in the area of mitochondrial genome sequencing and functional analysis of mitochondrial genes is providing basis of cytoplasmic male sterility in pigeonpea. Applied research: Large-scale genomic resources (molecular marker, genetic maps) developed by Rajeev Varshney has faciliated identification of major QTLs for drought tolerance traits, Ascochyta blight, Fusarium wilt, botrytis grey mold and salinity tolerance in chickpea and leaf rust and late leaf spot in groundnut. Several of these QTLs have been used in breeding programmes for the first time at ICRISAT as well as at other centres like Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Egerton University and many State Agricultural Universities. The first generation of molecular breeding products have been developed that will be released as improved varieties in near-future. Diagnostic molecular markers developed by Rajeev Varshney are also being used for purity assessment of hybrids of pigeonpea at ICRISAT, private sector and other organizations.
Places where work of last 5 years has been referred/ cited in Books, Reviews:
(i). Paper Cited
(ii). Book Cited
Names of the industries in which the technology (ies) has (have) been used :
The achievements already been recognised by Awards by any learned body:
The Awardee a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy/Indian Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Sciences/Others:
The Awardee delivered invited lecture(s) in India/abroad and/or chaired any scientific Internatiional Conference Symposium:
List of Awardee's 10 most significant publications.
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications during the last 5 years
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications from out of work done in India during the last five years:
Complete list of publications in standard refereed journals:
Complete list of publications with foreign collaborators (indicating your status as author):
List of papers published in Conferences /Symposia/ Seminars, etc:
List of the most outstanding Technical Reports/ Review Articles:
Statement regarding collaboration with scientists abroad:
Rajeev Varshney, as a part of his responsibilities as well as as a part of collaborative research, worked/has been working in collaboartion with several organizations from all over the world. Some of them are listed below and the contribution of Rajeev vis-à-vis foreign scientsist is also indicated in the Annexure 16E also. NORTH AMERICA USA Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Richard McCombie National Center for Genome Resources: Andrew Farmer The University of Arizona: Steven Rounsley The University of Georgia: Andrew Paterson, Scott Jackso, Peggy OZias-Akins, Jeff Bennetzen, Katrien Devos Tuskegee University: Guaoao He United State Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agricultural Research Services: Baozhu Guo University of California, Davis: Doug Cook, R Varma Penmetsa University of California, Riverside: Tim Close Cornell University: Susan McCouch, Mark Sorrells, Ed Buckler, Jean-Luc Jannick Iowa State University: Thomas Lubberstedt University of Missouri: Henry Nguyen University of Minnesota: Nevin Young University of Oklahoma: Ramanjulu Sunkar Florida International University: Eric von Wettberg Canada National Research Council Canada: Andrew Sharpe University of Saskatchewan: Bunyamin T’aran, Tom Warkentin, Bert Brandenberg, Ravi Chhibbar SOUTH AMERICA Brazil Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA): Soraya Bertioli, Patrcia Guaemares University of Brasília: David Bertioli Colombia International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT): Steve Bebbe Mexico International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT): Sarah Hearne, Kevin Pixley Generation Challenge Programme: Jean Marcel Ribaut EUROPE Czech Republic The Institute of Experimental Botany: Jaroslav Dolezel France CIRAD-Agricultural Research for Development: Jean-Christoph Glaszman, Jean-Francois Rami French Research Institute for Development: Yves Vigouroux Germany Genxpro GmbH: Peter Winter Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt: Guenter Kahl Julius Kühn Institute – Federal Research Institute for Cultivated Plants: Frank Ordon Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics & Crops Plant Research (IPK): Andreas Graner, Andreas Boerner, Marion Roeder, Jochen Reif, Nils Stein University of Hohenheim: Albrecht Melchinger University of Kiel: Christian Jung Institute Phytosphere Research - Research Center Jülich: Ulrich Schurr Ireland National University of Ireland: Charles Spillane Italy University of Bologna: Roberto Tuberosa Netherlands Wageningen University - Wageningen UR: Theo van Hintum Spain University of Cordoba: Teresa Milan, Juan Gil UK Aberystwyth University: Rattan Yadav The John Innes Centre: Cristobal Uauy The Sainsbury Laboratory: Jonathan Jones The Genome Analysis Centre: Sarah Ayling The James Hutton Institute: David Marshall AUSTRALIA Australia Australian Center for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd: Peter Langridge, Tim Sutton Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO): Karam Singh RMIT University: Nitin Mantri South Australian Research and Development Institute: Victor Sadras The University of Queensland: Robert Henry The University of Western Australia: Tim Colmer, Dave Edwards, Jacqueline Batley Diversity Arrays Technology Pty Ltd (DArT P/L): Andrzej Killian ASIA China Beijing Genomics Institute, Shenzhen: Wang Jun, Xun Xu, Liu Xin, Huangming Yang Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences: Lijuan Qiu, Jizeng Ma Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences: Xuan Qiang Liang, Xiaoping Chen Japan Kazusa DNA Research Institute: Sachiko Isobe, Kenta Srisawa National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences: Masahiro Yano, Takao Komatsuda Iwate Agricultural Biotechnology Research Centre: Ryohei Terauchi Hokakaido University: Junichi Kashwiwagi Malaysia ACGT: Derrik Khun Hyut Philippines International Rice Research Institute (IRRI): Mike Thomson, Hei Leung, Ken Macnelly South Korea Seoul National University: Suk Ha Lee Taiwan Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center: Roland Schaftleitner AFRICA AND MIDDLE EAST Ethiopia Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research: Asnake Fikre, Mussa Jarso Kenya Egerton University: Paul Kimurto Moi University: Samuel Gudu ICRISAT-Nairobi: Moses Siambi, Emmanuel Monyo, Damaris Odeney Lebanon International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA): Michael Baum, Shiv Agrawal Malawi ICRISAT-Lilongwe: Patrick Okori, Anita Seetha, Samuel Njorge Mali ICRISAT-Bamako: Ramadjita Tabo, Desmae Haile Niger ICRISAT-Niamey: Falalou Hamidu Nigeria International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA): Ousmane Boukar Senegal Institut Sénégalais de Recherche Agricole (ISRA): Issa Faye South Africa Agricultural Research Council, Onderstepoort: Jasper Rees
List of Patents taken
Total number of patents granted in last five years.
Details of Books published:

Contact Details

  • Centre of Excellence in Genomics
    International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
    Hyderabad - 502324
    Telangana INDIA
  • 040 30713305
  • 040 3071 3074
  • r[dot]k[dot]varshney[at]cgiar[dot]org
17 Oct 2018, http://ssbprize.gov.in/Content/Detail.aspx?AID=507