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Balaji Vasudevan is currently Plant Pathology/Plant Biology Lead at GreenLight Biosciences, Inc located in RTP, NC, USA. He earned his Master of Science in Plant Biotechnology in Chennai, India in 1994, and his Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology from Madurai Kamaraj University, India in 2002, working with Prof. Karuppannan Veluthambi. In his thesis work, he developed transformation and regeneration system for black gram (urad bean, Vigna mungo), improved Agrobacterium- mediated transformation efficiency in rice and black gram by manipulating binary vectors with key Agrobacterium vir genes, cloned, sequenced, molecular characterized DNA B of a geminivirus Mung bean yellow mosaic virus-Vigna (MYMV-Vig), developed agroinfection based viral assays, identified and showed key viral gene targets for pathogen derived resistance to MYMV-Vig. His Ph.D. research was published in 5 international journals After completing his Ph.D., Vasudevan went on to do his post-doctoral studies at Tel-Aviv University in the lab of Guido Sessa on molecular dissection of plant-bacterial interactions with an aim to identify disease resistance genes. Vasudevan used tomato and Pseudomonas/Xanthomonas system for his research to address bacterial speck and leaf spot diseases. He also worked on notorious Gram-positive bacterium Clavibacter that causes bacterial wilt and canker in tomato. He used cutting edge technologies like microarray, SSH and VIGS for this research and was the first researcher to identify tomato genes that were differentially regulated under Clavibacter attack. Vasudevan published 5 papers in international journals Vasudevan returned to India in 2007 to accept a Senior Scientist/Group Lead position in Meta-helix Life Sciences Ltd., an agbiotech company located at Bangalore, India. He initiated and developed three projects for RNAi based resistance to geminiviruses in cotton, tomato and okra (CLCuV, TYLCV and OYVMV). After a brief 1 year stay at company, Vasudevan left for USA in 2008 for his second post-doctoral position at Cornell University, New York in lab of Dr. Christine Smart. His research focused on screening and identification of tomato/tobacco genes involved in disease resistance to tomato wilt and canker disease caused by Clavibacter. He was the first person to show that Clavibacter can infect N. benthamiana and cause symptoms as in host tomato. He generated transgenic tomato plants over-expressing two of lead genes that was identified from VIGS screen and showed resistance to Clavibacter-induced disease. He also collaborated with Prof. Thomas J. Burr on developing crown gall resistant GMO grapevines using Agrobacterium virE2 gene. He had 3 publications and one of his publication in Phytopathology was Editor’s pick for that issue. In 2010, Vasudevan left Cornell University to accept a Research Scientist position at Noble Research Institute, Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA in the lab of Dr. Kiran Mysore. His work focused on identification of plant/host genes involved In Agrobacterium T-DNA transfer/integration with focus on NHEJ DNA repair pathway genes. Vasudevan identified many key NHEJ and plant genes like VIP2 that were shown to increase transformation efficiency. He published 3 papers in international journals. In 2012, Vasudevan joined as Senior Scientist in a gene editing company Cibus at San Diego, CA, USA. His research focused on development of gene-edited potato resistant/tolerant to devastating late blight disease and to test the effect of allelic variation of target genes on plant defense hormone accumulation and disease resistance to bacteria in Arabidopsis and oomycete Phytophthora infestans in potato. Vasudevan generated transgenic and gene edited potato and Arabidopsis events and showed tolerance to late blight disease and bacterial disease. In 2014, Vasudevan moved to RTP, NC, USA and joined Edison Agrosciences. He was the scientific PI for NSF-SBIR grant with Prof. Stanton Gelvin at Purdue University. He worked on enhancing plant genetic transformation by Agrobacterium, development of an efficient transformation system for sunflower, developing and commercializing innovative solutions to produce plant-based industrial materials, with a primary focus on the development of alternative rubber crops (sunflower). In 2018, Vasudevan accepted Plant Pathology/Plant Biology Lead position at GreenLight Biosciences, Inc. His work focuses on development and application of dsRNA mediated exogenous/spray on RNAi to combat pathogens and pests in crop plants. Vasudevan has 16 refereed international publications in top plant science journals, editorial board member for 2 and invited reviewer for 8 reputed journals.
His scientific areas of expertise and interests are Agrobacterium biology | Crop transformation | Genome Editing | Cell Biology | Plant tissue culture |Disease Diagnostics | Phytopathogen/Plant-Microbial Assay Development | Molecular plant-microbe interactions | Plant Pathology | Plant molecular biology |VIGS |RNAi (transgenic & exogenous spray on).