Position: Chief Plant Molecular Biologist, BioAtlantis Ltd.
Dr. Sujeeth Neerakkal, with a strong background in plant molecular biology research, currently works in BioAtlantis Ltd., Ireland, as a Chief Plant Molecular Biologist. He undertakes and oversees all the plant research activities at BioAtlantis, proving product technologies for the crop sector and providing insights into their molecular mechanism of action. He played a key role in coordinating EU FP7 projects (Biofector, Grant Agreement n°312117,COFREE, Grant Agreement n°KBBE.2011.1.2-06 & CropStrengthen, Grant Agreement n°642901) for BioAtlantis. He currently focuses on understanding the stress mechanism in biostimulant – plant interactions. Dr. Neerakkal’s PhD work from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, was focused on the isolation and characterization of a hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein (HRGP) in the cereal pearl millet. It also demonstrated the induced accumulation of HRGP in pearl millet by application of several biotic and abiotic elicitors. Following this, he was employed as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Faculty of Biology, University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to work on a project funded by the European Commission FP7 programme within the scheme International Co-operation-REGPOT-2009-2. During this period, Dr. Neerakkal focused his research on programmed cell death (PCD) in Arabidopsis thaliana. The major aim of this work was to characterize genes modulating paraquat (PQ)-induced PCD in Arabidopsis. In this particular research, he isolated a gene from Arabidopsis mutant - atr7 via map-based or positional cloning approach. The single nucleotide mutation in this gene confers enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress in Arabidopsis. The significant outcome from this research was the approval of two EU research grants for exploring further on the atr7 gene networking in Arabidopsis (PLANTSURVIVOR, EU-FP7 Grant Agreement n° 329816 and CropStrengthen, H2020 Grant Agreement n°642901). Several articles stemming from his research have been published in high impact peer reviewed journals. As a part of RESIST, he was seconded to CPSBB in Plovdiv to undertake research activities linked to abiotic stress responses and crop improvement. In the future, he will also be actively involved in gene functional analysis in desiccation tolerant plant species.