National Institute of Plant Genome Research
Digital India   Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav     
    Prof. Asis Datta
    (Ph.D., D.Sc., FNA., FASc., FNASc., FTWAS)
    Distinguished Emeritus Scientist
    Tel : (O) 91-11- 26742750 , 26735119
    Fax 91-11- 26741759
    E-mail: ,,
    Area of Specialization : Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology
Government of India Fellow Bose Institute, Calcutta, (1964-1968)
Research Associate, Public Health Research Institute New York, USA (1968-1971)
Assistant Virologist, University of California Los Angeles, USA (1971-1973)
Visiting Scientist, Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, NY USA (1976-1977, 1980- 1981)
Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences, JNU (1975-1978)
Professor, School of Life Sciences, JNU (1978 - 2008)
Dean & Professor, School of Life Sciences, JNU (1983-1985)
Rector & Professor, JNU (1993-1996)
Vice-Chancellor, JNU As Vice-Chancellor, created several new schools and centres (1996-2002).
Founder Director, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (June 2002- 2008)
Professor of Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University (2008 - till date)
Professor of Eminence, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (2008 - February 28, 2013)
Distinguished Emeritus Scientist, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (March 1, 2013 - till date)
 Awards and Honors
Awarded Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Biological Sciences by CSIR (1980); Fellow, Indian National Sciences Academy, New Delhi; Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; Fellow, National Science Academy, Allahabad; Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences, Italy; Guha Memorial Award (1988); Sir Amulya Rattan Oration Award (1988); First GD Birla Award for Science and Technology (1991); Dr. Nitya Anand Endowment Award, INSA (1993); The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award for R&D in Life Sciences (1994); Om Bhasin Award for Science and Technology (1995); Third World Academy of Sciences Awards (TWAS) for Biology (1996); Goyal Prize in Life Sciences (1996); Ranbaxy Award in Medical Sciences (Basic Research) for the year 1996; D.M Bose Gold Medal, Indian Science News Association (1996); Government of India honored Professor Asis Datta with Padma Shree (1999); General President, Society of Biological Chemistry (2000); Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award (2000); R.D Birla Award for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2001); Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Centenary Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research, ICMR, Govt. of India (2003); General President of Indian Science Congress Association for 2003-2004; Bashambar Nath Chopra Lecture Award (2004); Life Time Achievement, Society of Biological Chemists (2005); P.C. Mahalanabish Memorial award, West Bengal, Science & Technology (2005); Sir Edward Melbary Oration award (2006); Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) in 2002, 2004 and 2008 awarded by The University of Burdwan, Bidhan Chandra Agricultural University and Vidyasagar University, respectively for wide ranging contributions. Recognized Emeritus Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Asutosh Mookerjee Medal Award at the 92nd Session of Indian Science Congress (2005); Life time achievement award, Indian Science Congress (2006). Awarded Padma Bhushan by Government of India (2008). President, The National Academy of Sciences, India (2009-2010). Life time achievement award, Biotech Research Society (2011). Priyadarshini Gold Medal award for outstanding achievements (2011). G.M. Modi Science award for innovative Science and Technology (2011).
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology
 Current Research Programme
A. Molecular Biology of Pathogenic Yeast Candida albicans
We are working in the area of molecular biology of pathogenic yeast using Candida albicans as a model system with an aim to understand the nature of virulent factors associated with the medically important yeast. Candida albicans, is the most pathogenic of Candida species. It is a serious agent of infection particularly in immuno compromised patients. The delicate balance between the host and the otherwise normally commensally fungus, turn into a parasitic relationship, resulting in the development of infection is called candidiasis. It is believed that for C. albicans to become invasive, a change from yeast to hypha is important. Yeast to hypha conversion occurs through an intermediate germ tube stage. The germ tube leads to hyphae formation. N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) is utilized by the pathogenic strains of C. albicans. GlcNAc also induces change in cellular morphology in C. albicans. Morphogenetic changes like hyphae and pseudohyphal growth enables to propagate into the host tissue as a preliminary manifestation of invasion and spread of pathogens. To elucidate the role of GlcNAc in pathogen city, NAG1 has been cloned in our laboratory. GlcNAc transcriptionally induces NAG1. Sequence analysis of a 4 kb genomic clone containing NAG1 indicates that this gene is part of a cluster containing two other genes of the GlcNAc catabolic pathway: DAC1 (GlcNAc-6- phosphate deacetylase) and HXK1 (GlcNAc kinase). Clusters of functionally related genes are general features of prokaryotes and are less prevalent in eukaryotes. In E. coli the amino sugar pathway genes are also organized in clusters and possibly have a common regulatory mechanism. This is the first report of a gene cluster in Candida (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA 97: 14218-14223, 2000). Interestingly, attenuation of virulence occurs by disruption of this pathway (Infection and Immunity, 69 (12), 7898-7903, 2001).
B. Crop Improvement Program.
I. Nutritional improvement of crop plants by expressing a seed albumin gene from Amaranthus hypochondriacus.
In our laboratory, we have been working on crop improvement program for last couple of years (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA107 (41): 17533-8, 2010). .In order to develop transgenic crop plants with high nutritional value, a seed albumin gene (AmA1) encoding for a protein of high lysine and sulfur containing amino acids from amaranth seeds has been cloned and sequenced. [Raina A and Datta A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:11774-11778, 1992]. Very recently, the AmA1 gene has been introduced into potato plants. The expression of AmA1 in transgenic plants, both constitutively and tuber-specifically, resulted in a significant increase in growth and tuber yield besides an increase in most essential amino acids. The transgenic tubers also contained more total protein as compared to control potato tubers (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97: 3724-3729, 2000]. Field trial of India's first GM crop (GM potato) with high nutritional value is now over in collaboration with the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI). In addition, the technology in the industrial processing of animal feed supplement using yeast cells expressing AmA1 protein, has been transferred to Cadila Pharmaceuticals for commercial production.
II. Expression of oxalate decarboxylase reduces the accumulation of oxalic acid in crop plants and confers fungal resistance.
Some green leafy vegetables (e.g. amaranth, spinach, rhubarb) are rich sources of vitamins and minerals but they contain oxalic acid as a nutritional stress factor because oxalate chelates calcium and precipitation of calcium oxalate in kidney leads to hyperoxaluria and destruction of renal tissues. In addition, the production of oxalic acid is an important attacking mechanism utilized by several phytopathogenic fungi, e.g. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Sclerotinia rolfsii, and Sclerotinia ceptivorum. In order to develop transgenic plants with low oxalic content and making them resistant to fungal infection, a DNA (OXDC) encoding oxalate decarboxylase fromCollybia velutipes has been isolated and sequenced [Mehta A and Datta A. J. Biol. Chem.266: 23548-23553, 1991].
Very recently, oxalate-free transgenic tobacco and tomato plants have been developed which are resistant to phytopathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (J. Biol. Chem.275: 7230-7238, 2000]. Oxalate- free GM tomatoes resistant to pathogenic fungus are currently under field trial.
III. Enhanced self life in fruit by using novel genes which are involved in fruit ripening.
In a globalized economy the control of fruit ripening is of strategic importance because excessive softening limits shelf-life. The determining factor in the post-harvest deterioration of fruits and vegetables is the rate of softening, which influence shelf life and limits transportation and storage. Thus, softening and subsequent spoilage in these crops need to be controlled for extension of shelf-life and effective preservation. In this context, two novel genes, namely α-D-mannosidase and β-hexosaminidase have been cloned and sequenced. Silencing these genes in tomato  (climacteric) and capsicum (non-climacteric) has given the desired result [(PNAS, USA 107, 4213-4218 (2010); J. Expt. Botany, 62 (2): 571-82(2011)]
IV. Expression a single gene leads to many benefits.
In recent years, development of transgenic crops with multiple desirable traits such as drought tolerance pathogen resistance and nutritional quality has emerged as an important area in the field of biotechnology. Introduction of several traits in a crop requires manipulation of more than one gene. We reported improved drought tolerance and fungal resistance along with the increased iron and polyunsaturated fatty acid content in tomato by expressing a single gene encoding C-5 sterol desaturase (FvC5SD) from an edible fungus Flammulina velutipes (Scientific Reports (Nature publication) 2: 951 (2012),  Nature Protocols. Protocol Exchange doi:10.103
/protex. 2012.061 (2012)]
Tel : (O) 91-11- 26742750 , 26735119
Fax 91-11- 26741759
 Twenty selected publications
Datta A (1970) Regulatory role of ATP on hog kidney N-acetyl-D-glucosamine -2-epimerase. Biochemistry 9: 3363-3370
Datta A, Camerini O, R.D, Braunstein SN and Franklin RM (1971) Structure and synthesis of a lipid containing bacteriophage VII.  Structural proteins of bacteriophage PM2. Virology 45: 232-239
Datta A and Franklin RM (1972) DNA -dependent RNA polymerase is associated with bacteriophage PM2. Nature 236: 131-133
Datta A, de Haro C, Sierra JM and Ochoa S (1977) Mechanism of translational control by hemin in reticulocyte lysate. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 74: 3326-3329 
Reddy ASN, Raina A, Gunnery S and Datta A (1987) Regulation of protein synthesis in plant embryo by protein.  phosphorylation I. Purification and characterization of a cAMP -independent protein kinase and its endogenous substrate Plant Physiol. USA. 83: 988-993 
Toro N, Datta A, Yanofsky  M and Nester EW (1988) Role of  the  Overdrive Sequence in T-DNA border   cleavage in Agrobacterium. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.USA, 85: 8558-8562 
Ganesan K, Banerjee A and Datta A (1991) Molecular Cloning of secretory acid proteinase Gene from Candida albicans and its use as a species specific probe. Infection and Immunity, USA, 59: 2972-2977.
Mehta A and Datta A  (1991) Oxalate decarboxylase from Collybia velutipes: Purification, Characterization cDNA cloning.  J. Biol. Chem. 266: 23548-23553
Raina A and Datta A (1992) Molecular cloning of a gene encoding a seed specific protein with nutritionally balanced  amino  acid composition  from Amaranthus, Proc.Natl. Acad. Sci .USA 89: 11774 - 11778
Natarajan K  and Datta  A (1993) Molecular cloning and analysis  of the NAG1 cDNA coding for glucosamine-6-phosphate deaminase  from Candida albicans. J. Biol. Chem. 268: 9206-9214.
Malathi K, Ganesan K and Datta A  (1994) Identification of a putative transcription  factor in Candida albicans that can complement the mating   defect of Saccharomyces cerevisiae ste12 mutants. J.Biol.Chem. 269: No.37, 22945-22951
Jyothi MK, Jamaluddin MS,  Natarajan K,  Kaur D and Datta A (2000) Analysis of the Inducible GlcNAc Catabolic  Pathway Gene Cluster in Candida albicans: Discrete GlcNAc Inducible Factors interact at the Promoter of NAG1. Proc. Natl.Acad.Sci, USA 97: 14218-14223
Kesarwani M, Azam M, Natarajan K, Mehta A, and Datta A (2000) Oxalate  Decarboxylase from Collybia velutips: Molecular Cloning and Its Over Expression to Confer Resistance to Fungal Infection in Transgenic Tobacco and Tomato. J.Biol.Chem. 275: No.10, 7230-7238
Chakraborty S, Chakraborty N and Datta A (2000) Increased nutritive value of transgenic potato by expressing a non-allergenic seed albumin gene from Amaranthus hypochondriacus Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci,USA, 97: 3724-3729
Chakraborty S, Sarma B,  Chakraborty N and Datta A (2002) Premature termination RNA polymerase II mediated transcription of a seed protein gene in Schizosaccharmyces pombe. Nucleic Acid Research, 30: 2940-2949
Meli VK, Ghosh S, Prabha TN,   Chakraborty N, Chakraborty S and Datta A (2010) Enhancement of fruit shelf life by suppressing N-glycan processing enzymes. Proc. Natl. Acad.  Sci,USA, 107 (6): 2413-2418
Chakraborty S, Chakraborty N, Agrawal  L, Ghosh S, Narula K,  Shekhar S, Prakash  S, Prakash S, Naik, Pande  PC, Chakrborti SK and Datta A (2010) Next generation protein rich potato by expressing a seed protein gene AmA1as a result of proteome rebalancing in transgenic tuber. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci, USA,107(41): 17533-17538
Ghosh S, Rao KH, Sengupta M, Bhattacharya SK and Datta A (2011) Two gene clusters co-ordinate for a functional N-acetylglucosamine catabolic pathway in Vibrio cholerae. Mol Microbiol. Jun;80(6): 1549-1560
Ghosh S, Meli VK, Kumar  A, Thakur A, Chakraborty N, Chakraborty S and Datta A (2011) The N-glycan processing enzymes α-mannosidase and β-D-1 N acetylhexosaminidase are involved in ripening-associated softening in the non climacteric fruits of capsicum.  J Exp Bot. Jan;62(2): 571-582
Kamthan A, Kamthan M, Azam M, Chakraborty N, Chakraborty S, Datta A (2012) Expression of a fungal sterol desaturase improves tomato drought tolerance, pathogen resistance and nutritional quality. Scientific Reports (Nature publication) 2: 951

A process for the preparation of fragmented nucleic acid useful for diagnosis Candidosis. Indian PatentNo.177707 dated 15.2.97
A process for the preparation of DNA encoding Oxalate decarboxylase from Collybia velutipes. Indian Patent No. 425/Del/92 dated 18.5.92
A process for the isolation of DNA encoding a seed specific protein with nutritionally balanced amino acid composition from Amaranthus. Indian Patent No. 227/Del/93 dated 10.03.93
Polynucleotide sequence of fruit softening associated α-mannosidase and its uses for enhancing fruit shelf life. 1647/DEL/2008 dated July 9, 2008
Polynucleotide sequence of fruit softening associated β-D-N-acetyhexosaminidase and its uses for enhancing fruit shelf life. 1648/DEL/2008 dated July 9, 2008
A process for production of anti-diabetic compound in root culture of "Catharanthus roseus". 1649/DEL/2008 dated July 9, 2008
Mutant microorganisms and uses thereof 622/DEL/2012 dated March 2, 2012

United States and other countries
Oxalate decarboxylase. US Patent No 5547870 issued on 20.8.96
Seed storage protein with nutritionally balanced amino acid composition. US Patent No.5670635 issued on 23.9.97
AmA1 protein and presumably a composition containing same. US Patent No.5849352 issued on 15. 12. 98
Method of making seed specific DNA. US Patent No.5846736 issued on (8.12.98)
Polynucleotide sequence of fruit softening associated β-D-N-acetylhexosaminidase and its uses for enhancing fruit shelf life. IPA-1647/DEL/2008
Polynucleotide sequence of fruit softening associated & alpha-mannosidase and its uses for enhancing fruit shelf life. (PCT/IN2009/000387). Published by WIPO on 14.01.2010 (Pub. No. WO/2010/004582) and by the Indian patent office on 16.04.2010 (1647/DEL/2008)
Process for production of ant-diabetic compound in root culture of Catharanthus roseus. (PCT000389) Published by WIPO on 15.01.2010 (Pub. No. WO/2010/004584) and the Indian patent office on 23.04.2010 (1649 DEL/2008)
Polynucleotide sequence of fruit softening associated & beta-D-N-acetyhexosaminidase and its uses for enhancing fruit shelf life. (PCT/IN2009/000388). Published by WIPO on 14.01.2010 (Pub. No. WO/2010/004583) and the Indian patent office on 23.04.2010 (1648/DEL/2008).
Extra-cellular matrix localized ferritin-1 for iron uptake, storage and stress tolerance (International application No. PCT/IN2007/000231).
Recombinant microorganisms and uses thereof US Patent US 13/451,481