Position & Department:
Director/Professor, , Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB)
Dr. Muhammad Sarwar Khan is an internationally known molecular biotechnologist. He pioneered plant chloroplast genetic engineering approach in UK, Finland and Pakistan. He is pioneer in expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) in plant chloroplasts and his research findings were published in Nature Biotechnology and The Plant Journal. He is pioneer in developing plastid transformation in monocots; including rice and sugarcane. He developed efficient and reproducible regeneration protocols for rice, sugarcane and carrot. He also has developed methods for regenerating plants from in vitro grown rice and sugarcane to help cells to sort out and improve homoplasmicity levels of transgenic chloroplasts.
His research interests are: functional analyses of chloroplast genes by reverse genetics and expression of foreign genes in the chloroplasts to confer agronomic traits such as insect-pest resistance, salinity and herbicide tolerance. Further, his group is actively involved in overexpression of antigenic and therapeutic proteins in chloroplasts to develop cost-effective therapeutics and vaccines since chloroplasts are distinguished photosynthetic organelles within plant cells having their own genome. Plastid gene expression resembles with their prokaryotic progenitor. Transgenic plastids offer unique advantages to plant biotechnology, including high-level foreign gene expression, absence of epigenetic effects and gene containment due to lack of transgene transmission through pollens.
Position & Department:
Associate Professor, , Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB)
Development of transgenic wheat with increased tolerance against drought
and salinity The world population has topped 6 billion people and is predicted to double in the
next 50 years. Ensuring an adequate food supply for this booming population is going to be a
major challenge in the years to come. GM foods promise to meet this need in a number of ways.
Some benefits of genetic engineering in agriculture are increased crop yields, reduced costs for
food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food
quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security and medical benefits to the worlds
growing population. Currently we have developed transgenic wheat by transferring DREB1A and
gdhA genes to improve tolerance against drought and salinity. Gene tagging and development of
EMS mutant lines in basmati rice is also going on.
Since the past eighteen years I have been engaged in the fields of plant breeding, genetics, molecular biology, and biotechnology. My career goals centre on tailoring crop varieties with better tolerance to the changing environment through breeding and genome engineering. In my earlier research at NIBGE and UC-Berkeley, I worked on the characterization of leaf curl disease and examined transgene stacking using site-specific recombinases in cotton. Before joining CABB, I also worked at the Department of Plant Breeding and genetics (UAF) where I focused on mapping genes for yield and water stress tolerance through association mapping. Currently, I am working as an Associate Professor (Tenured) at CABB in the area of cotton biotechnology with the aim to developing site-specific genome engineering technology for stacking multiple transgenes and recycling selectable marker genes. An 8.3 million rupees grant has been provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to support this activity. In addition to site-specific genome engineering, my Lab also interests in Plant Phenomics to bridge the genotype-phenotype gap for more efficient gene mapping. A 40 million rupees grant from ICT R&D Fund is currently in process.
Position & Department:
Assistant Professor, , Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB)
Protoplast fusion, cryobiology and transgenics
Viruses have become a threat in all parts of the world. Therefore they need to be
explored seriously. Our lab is studying geminiviruses in particular. These are the most
notorious and difficult viruses to control. One of the biggest challenges in recent years is
Cotton Leaf Curl Disease (CLCuD). The disease is caused by DNA-A and a
betasatellite component of the genus Begomovirus. We routinely visit the areas where
cotton germplasm is maintained or multiplied. So far, a complete immunity or resistance
has not been established against CLCuD. Recently, we received a research grant from
HEC to understand the replication of CLCuD. We are going to conduct a high
throughput analysis for host factors interacting with replication of CLCuD associated
begomoviruses and their satellites.
Under the present scenario of climate change, our crop plants have been facing biotic and abiotic stresses. I am interested to know the resistance mechanisms at molecular level developed by cereal crop plants against these stresses. I have been using Molecular Biology techniques and state of the art transformation systems to study stress mechanisms and develop transgenic plants resistant against these stresses.
Host-Pathogen Interaction studies, Mechanism
Molecular Pathogenesis, Functional Characterization of Pathogens
Plant Genomics and Functional Genomics
Plant Biotechnology, Insect-Plant Molecular Interaction
I had been involved in transgenic research since, 2004. I am working on fundamental as well as applied Molecular Biology/Genetic Engineering. Engineering plant genome for valuable agronomic traits including biotic and abiotic stresses. Chloroplast genetic engineering is of particular interest for me owing to several unique advantages of this technology including high-level transgene expression, multigene engineering and transgene containment by maternal inheritance so is a biosafe approach for transgenics. Gene isolation, characterization, amplification and cloning for the development of transformation cassettes. Exploring novel explants for transformation and rapid clonal propagation. Among the various crops major emphasis is on sugarcane.
Plant molecular biology particularly chloroplast transformation for biopharmaceutical production and biotic/abiotic stress tolerance in plants.
Genetic engineering of crop plants for improving agronomic
Position & Department:
Lecturer, , Centre of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology (CABB)
Wheat production in the world is limited mainly by the availability of water resources and soil salinity.
This problem is more acute when irrigation procedures use poor quality water and when soil drainage is
poor. This has led to serious loss of yields in many arid and semi-arid regions in the World. Plants have
developed different strategies to face water deficit and over the past few years, much attention has been
focused on the identification of genes and proteins induced in response to environmental stress. My
current interests are focused on “Ectopic expression of DREB1A transcription factor to improve drought
and salt tolerance in wheat”. This transcription factor has been reported to control almost 40 genes
involved in drought, salt and cold tolerance.
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