Surekha Katiyar-Agarwal

Assistant Professor 

E. mail:
SpecializationSmall RNA-mediated gene regulation in biotic and abiotic stresses in plants.
Research Interests

Small RNAs have emerged as one of the most important regulators of gene expression in eukaryotes. They are comprised of small RNA molecules in the size range of 20-40 nucleotides. Small RNAs are widely implicated in plant development such as leaf morphogenesis and flowering. Interestingly, these small RNA regulators play important roles in response to nutrient deprivation (low sulfate and low phosphate), biotic (Pseudomonas syringae) and abiotic stresses (salinity and oxidative stress) in plants. During my postdoctoral research at University of California Riverside (UCR), my work provided first example of endogenous small RNA involved in plant defense against bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae. In animal systems, it was first shown that small RNAs do exist longer than 30 nucleotides. Another important work during my post-doctoral research involves identification of a novel class of small RNA longer than 30 nt in plants. One of the members of this class of small RNAs is involved in regulating expression of a gene associated with plant defense.

The foremost requirement for studying the small RNA is its sequence. To date, small RNAs have been sequenced in Arabidopsis, rice, wheat, Brassica napus, tomato, alfa-alfa, and. Poplar. However, these small RNAs have been identified in plants grown under controlled conditions. My laboratory is involved in identification and characterization of small RNAs involved in plant development, biotic and abiotic stress responses in economically-important plants. This would help us in identifying new regulators of gene expression and understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in protecting plants in stressful environments. The long-term goal of my lab is utilizing this information for enhancing plant’s tolerance against biotic and abiotic stresses.

Select Publications:
  1. Katiyar-Agarwal S and Jin H 2010. Role of small RNAs in host-microbe interactions. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol. 48:225-246.
  2. Katiyar-Agarwal S, Gao S, Vivian-Smith A and Jin H 2007. A novel class of bacteria-induced small RNAs in Arabidopsis. Genes Dev. 21: 3123-3134.
  3. Katiyar-Agarwal S and Jin H. 2007. Discovery and detection of small RNAs in response to pathogen infection in plants.  Methods  Enzymol. 427:215-227.
  4. Verslues PE, Batelli G, Grillo S, Agius F, Kim YS, Zhu J, Agarwal M, Katiyar-Agarwal S, Zhu JK. 2007. Interaction of SOS2 with nucleoside diphosphate kinase 2 and catalases reveals a point of connection between salt stress and H2O2 signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana. Mol Cell Biol. 2007 27: 7771-7780.
  5. Katiyar-Agarwal S, Morgan R, Dahlbeck D, Borsani O, Villegas A,  Zhu J-K, Staskawicz B and Jin H. 2006. A Pathogen-Inducible Endogenous siRNA In Plant Immunity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103 (47): 18002-18007.
  6. Katiyar-Agarwal S, Zhu J, Kim K, Agarwal M, Fu X, Huang A and Zhu J-K. 2006. The plasma membrane Na+/H+ antiporter SOS1 interacts with RCD1 and functions in oxidative stress tolerance in Arabidopsis. Proc.  Natl.  Acad.  Sci. USA 103(49): 18816-18821.
  7. Verslues, PE, Agarwal M, Katiyar-Agarwal S, Zhu J and Zhu J-K 2006. Methods and concepts in quantifying resistance to drought, salt and freezing, abiotic stresses that affect plant water status. Plant J.  45: 523-539.
  8. Katiyar-Agarwal S, Agarwal M, and Grover A 2003. Heat-tolerant basmati rice engineered by over-expression of hsp101. Plant Mol Biol. 51(5): 677-686.
  9. Agarwal M, Sahi C, Katiyar-Agarwal S, Agarwal S, Young T, Gallie DR, Sharma VM, Ganesan K, and Grover A. 2003. Molecular characterization of rice hsp101: complementation of yeast hsp104 mutation by disaggregation of protein granules and differential expression in indica and japonica rice types. Plant Mol Biol. 51(4):543-553.
  10. Katiyar-Agarwal S, M Agarwal, D Gallie and A Grover. 2001. Search for the cellular functions of plant Hsp100/ Clp family proteins. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 20: 277-295.