Patil joins Institute of Genomics for Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance
By: Norman Martin
Gunvant Patil, an expert in genetic engineering, quantitative genetics and translational genomics, has been named an assistant professor in Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, according to officials within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He officially stepped into his new research and teaching post on Jan. 1.
Patil will be working within Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources newest scientific team - the Institute of Genomics for Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance. Led by Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella, the high-profile research group will examine how plants adapt to thrive in the presence of environmental stresses such as extreme heat and cold, drought and in the presence of brackish water sources.
Herrera-Estrella's arrival at Texas Tech was made possible by a $5 million grant from the State of Texas Governor's University Research Initiative (GURI) and matched by the university to bring the best and brightest researchers to Texas.
Patil's research interests includes genetic improvement of commercially important crops using integrated genetic engineering and genomics technologies. Genetic engineering offers promising solutions for basic research and has revolutionized the agriculture, however genetic transformation and subsequent genome editing of several crops remains challenging.
His lab will lead the development of new technologies to improve genetic transformation, genome editing and accelerate the plant breeding in economically important crops species including legumes, fiber and energy crops.
"Genome engineering has tremendous potential in crop improvement and using this technology we can precisely turn ON, turn OFF or fine tune the expression of targeted gene/s and improve the desirable traits and plant fitness," Patil said.
One of his primary goals at Tech is to discover novel traits to improve abiotic stress tolerance, seed composition and plant productivity using genome engineering technologies in cotton, sorghum and peanut. "Importantly, I would like to dedicate my time and resources for student's education, research and training," he said.
Prior to joining the Tech faculty, Patil served as a research scientist at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul. He also worked as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a visiting researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden.
His doctorate is from the University of Pune-India and the National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi, India. Patil is a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists, American Phytopathological Society and Sigma XI, a scientific research honor society.
GURI was created in 2015 by Gov. Greg Abbott's Office of Economic Development & Tourism and the state legislature to encourage universities to bring the world's top researchers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine to Texas. The matching grant program assists institutions of higher learning in Texas with recruiting distinguished researchers, particularly targeting Nobel laureates and members of the NAS, in an effort to further economic and workforce development.
Texas Tech officials convinced the state and the GURI Board of the importance of initiating this research at Texas Tech by demonstrating how the institute will be beneficial both to Texas Tech and the cotton industry, one of the top economic drivers in West Texas. The matching funds were required to originate from somewhere other than government-appropriated funding within the university's overall budget.
Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science is a comprehensive academic unit, conducting research and offering coursework and programs in several areas of plant and soil science. It has 33 full-time faculty members, and a student body consisting of approximately 180 undergraduate and 114 graduate students. Some of those students are enrolled in CASNR's distance education program.
CONTACT: Glen Ritchie, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-4325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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