National Institute of Plant Genome Research
Digital India   Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav     
    Dr. Jyothilakshmi Vadassery
    Staff Scientist V
    Lab 108
    Phone - 91-11-26735107
    Fax: 91-11-26741658
    E mail:,
Jyothilakshmi LAB
 Academic Background
Staff Scientist V (2022-present) : National Institute for Plant Genome Research (NIPGR)
Staff Scientist IV (2018-2021) : National Institute for Plant Genome Research (NIPGR)
Staff Scientist III (2014-2018) : National Institute for Plant Genome Research (NIPGR)
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
Janaki Ammal - National Women Bioscientists Award, 2022 (Department of Biotechnology)
NASI- SCOPUS Young Scientist Award in Plant Science/Agriculture, 2022
Head, Max Planck-India Partner Group in Chemical Ecology (2015-2021)
EMBO Global Investigator (2020-2024) 
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

To understand the molecular mechanisms 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 techniques, metabolomics and imaging to expedite novel discoveries in plant defense against insect herbivory.

Key interests: Plant-Insect interactions, Chemical Ecology, Calcium Channels and Chemical Defense, Jasmonic Acid signaling, Metabolomics, Spodoptera, Piriformospora indica

 Research Area

1) Mechanisms underlying rapid 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 insect attack very rapidly using calcium signals. The early events in plant perception of insect attack is largely unexplored and we have uncovered a major role for the calcium channel, Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels (CNGC19) in plant defense against herbivory (Meena et al., 2019, Plant Cell). We identified a key functional role for CNGC19 in plant defense against Slitura, via Ca2+-mediated defense signaling that modulates phytohormones (jasmonates) and secondary metabolites (glucosinolates). We are further characterizing the role of additional CNGCs in herbivory induced plant immunity. Majority of plant defense upon lepidopteran insect feeding is co-ordinated by jasmonic acid (JA/JA-Ile) dependent signaling cascade. We also study the role of JA-Ile as a possible damage signal and novel players involved in its biosynthesis and perception in plants, using R-Geco based imaging and Aequorin based forward genetic screen. We further use metabolomics to identify the plant response to herbivory and how alterations in early signaling genes impact secondary metabolite production.  We have identified novel metabolites involved in the interaction of Spodoptera with its host plants Tomato (Kundu et al., 2018, Planta) and Maize.

 Key to plant survival against voraciously feeding insects is quick 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. We identified for the first time that upon insect herbivory, plants send systemic calcium signals to unwounded leaf (Kiep et al., 2015, New Phytologist). Changes in electrical signal, membrane potential, and Ca2+ result in systemic signaling upon herbivory. Molecular components involved in production local and systemic signals, the factor that moves from leaf to leaf and decoding mechanisms are our further areas of interest.



 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 colonizes the roots of many plant species including Arabidopsis 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 host, Arabidopsis thaliana we intend to understand the molecular mechanisms by which symbiotic fungi in roots provide growth advantage to whole plants (Jogawat et al., 2020, JExB, Kundu et al., Plant Physiology, 2022) and utilize the knowledge to develop novel strategies to improve crop yields.

 Group Members
Dr. D. Balasubramaniam
Dr. Abhimanyu Jogawat
Dr. Sameer Dixit
Dr. Paramita Bera
Mr. Vinod Kumar Prajapati
Ph. D. Student
Ms. Shruthi Mishra
Ph. D. Student
Athira Mohandas Nair
Ph. D. Student
Ms. Misha Kumari
Ph. D. Student
Vishakh Vijayan
Ph. D. Student
Amrutha Laie
Ph. D. Student
 Lab Alumni
Dr. Anish Kundu
Mr. Ramgopal Prajapati
Dr. Mukesh Kumar Meena
Dr. Pritha Kundu
Dr. Janesh Gautam
Ms. Deepika Mittal
Ms. Deepthi Krishna D.
Mr. Mahendra Verma
Ms. Riya Roon
 Former Trainees
  • Ms. Aruna Boro, St. Anthony College, Shillong
  • Mr. Sidhant S Shetty, IISER Bhopal
  • Mr. Sathyaseelan. P TNAU, Coimbatore
  • Ms. Bhawana. M, IISER, Pune
  • Mr. Appus. M.V, MACFAST Tiruvalla
  • Ms. Sayali Gosavi, Pune University
  • Dr. Wilhelm Boland, Dr.Axel Mithöfer (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany)
  • Dr. Ralf Oelmüller (Institute of General Botany and Plant
  • Physiology, FSU Jena, Germany)
  • Dr. Edgar Pieter (University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany)
  • Dr. Arockiasamy Arulandu (ICGEB, Delhi)
  • Dr. J.C Sekhar (Indian Institute of Maize Research, Delhi)
  • Dr. Smrutisanchita Behra (IICT, Kolkata)
Mittal, D., Gautam, J. K., Varma, M., Laie, A., Mishra, S., Behera, S., & Vadassery, J. (2024). External jasmonic acid isoleucine mediates amplification of plant elicitor peptide receptor (PEPR) and jasmonate-based immune signalling. Plant, Cell & Environment, 10.1111/pce.14812
Majumdar, S., Kaur, H., Rinella, M.J., Kundu, A., Vadassery, J., Erbilgin, N., Callaway, R., Cadotte, M., Inderjit (2023) Synergistic effects of canopy chemistry and autogenic soil biota on a global invader. Journal of Ecology, 00:1-17, 10.1111/1365-2745.14113
Fatima, U., Balasubramaniam, D., Khan, W. A., Kandpal, M., Vadassery, J., Arockiasamy, A., & Senthil-Kumar, M. (2023). AtSWEET11 and AtSWEET12 transporters function in tandem to modulate sugar flux in plants. Plant Direct, 7(3), e481.
Soujanya PL, Sekhar JC, Yathish KR, Karjagi CG, Rao KS, Suby SB, Jat SL, Kumar B, Kumar K, Vadassery J, Subaharan K, Patil J, Kalia VK, Dhandapani A and Rakshit S (2022) Leaf Damage Based Phenotyping Technique and Its Validation Against Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith), in Maize. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13:906207. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.906207
Kundu A, Mishra S, Kundu P, Jogawat A, Vadassery J (2021) Piriformospora indica employs hosts putrescine for growth promotion in plants. Plant Physiology,
Kundu P and Vadassery J (2021) Role of WRKY transcription factors in plant defense against lepidopteran insect herbivores: An Overview. Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology,
Jogawat A, Meena MK, Kundu A, Varma M, Vadassery J (2020) Calcium channel CNGC19 mediates basal defense signaling to balance colonization of Piriformospora indica on Arabidopsis roots. Journal of Experimental Botany, pii: eraa028.
Prajapati, V.K., Verma, M., Vadassery, J (2020) In silico identification of effector proteins from generalist herbivore, Spodoptera litura. BMC Genomics 21, 819.
Mittal D, Mishra S, Prajapati R, Vadassery J (2020) Forward Genetic Screen Using Transgenic Calcium Reporter Aequorin to Identify Novel Targets in Calcium Signaling. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVe), e61259, doi:10.3791/61259
Prajapati, R., Mittal, D., Meena, M., Vadassery, J (2020) Jasmonic acid (JA) induced-calcium elevation in Arabidopsis is highly variable due to time of day and conversion to JA-Ile. Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology. 29, 816–823 
Suby P, Soujanya L, Yadava P, Patil J, Subaharan K, Prasad S, Babu S, Jat SL, Yathish K, Vadassery J, Kalia V, Bakthavatsalam N, Shekhar JC and Rakshit S (2020) Invasion of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in India: nature, distribution, management and potential impact. Current Science 119 (1): 44-51
Meena MK, Prajapati R, Krishna D, Divakaran K, Pandey Y, Reichelt M, Mathew MK, Boland W, Mithöfer A and Vadassery J (2019) The Ca2+ channel CNGC19 regulates Arabidopsis defense against spodoptera herbivory. Plant Cell, 31: 1539-1562. 
Kundu, A., Mishra, S. & Vadassery, J (2018).Spodoptera litura-mediated chemical defense is differentially modulated in older and younger systemic leaves of Solanum lycopersicumPlanta doi: 10.1007/s00425-018-2953-3.
Kundu A, Vadassery J (2018) Chlorogenic acid-mediated chemical defense of plants against insect herbivores. Plant Biology (Stuttg).  doi: 10.1111/plb.12947.
Vadassery J, Ballhorn DJ, Fleming SR, Mazars C, Pandey SP, Schmidt A, Schuman MC, Yeh K-W, Yilamuiang A, Mithöfer A (2018). Neomycin: an effective inhibitor of jasmonate-induced reactions in plants. Journal of Plant Growth Regulation. 38: 713–722
Jogawat A, Vadassery J, Verma N, Oelmüller R, Dua M, Nevo E, Johri AK (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.
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 Phytologist207(4):996-1004. (corresponding author)
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.
Previous work
Jimenez-Aleman GH, Almeida-Trapp M, Fernández-Barbero G, Gimenez-Ibanez S, Reichelt M, Vadassery J, Mithöfer A, Caballero J, Boland W, Solano R (2019) Omega hydroxylated JA-Ile is an endogenous bioactive jasmonate that signals through the canonical jasmonate signaling pathway. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. 1864(12):158520
Jisha, V., Vadassery, J*, Mithöfer, A., Lavanya, D., Saivishnupriya., 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
Scholz, S. S., 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
Ranjan, A., Vadassery, J., Patel, H.K., Pandey, A., Palaparthi, R., Mithöfer, A., Sonti, V.R (2014) Upregulation of jasmonate biosynthesis and jasmonate-responsive genes in rice leaves in response to a bacterial pathogen mimic.  Functional and Integrative Genomics Journal, 15(3):363-73
Vadassery, J *., Reichelt, M., Jimenez-Aleman, G. H., Boland, W., Mithöfer, A. (2014). Neomycin inhibition of (+)-7-iso-jasmonoyl-L-isoleucine accumulation and signaling. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 40(7):676-86. (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. 7(12):1712-26
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, S. S., Mithöfer, A. (2012) Multiple calmodulin-like proteins in Arabidopsisare induced by insect-derived (Spodoptera littoralis) oral secretion. Plant Signaling and Behaviour. 7 (10):1277-80
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, B., S., 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 Behaviour 4(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):1263-74  
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), 1371-83.  
Jyothilakshmi, V., Singh, A., Gaikwad, K., Vinod, K., Singh, N .K. and S.M.S.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. 
 Our Research in Spotlight
1) Our work on role of calcium channel CNGC19 in plant defense against insect herbivory (Plant Cell 2019 was covered by many national and international outlets 

2) Piriformopsora indica work published in Journal of Experimental Botany 2020 was covered by various media sources 

3) Jyothilakshmi Vadassery joins European Molecular Biology Organisation’s (EMBO) Global Investigator Network Programme in 2019. 

4) The book “Fortress Plant” which describes our New Phytologist 2015 work