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Om Parkash Dhankher

Date & Location: March 1, 2021, at 4p; Virtual visit

Subject: Metabolic engineering of Camelina sativa for enhanced oil production and increasing tolerance to abiotic stresses

Host: Hesham Abdullah

About the Speaker

University: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests: Prof. Om Parkash Dhankher is a plant/agriculture biotechnologist. His research focus is multidisciplinary in nature ranging from crop improvements, environmental remediation to biofuels. Along with strong research in engineering plants for detoxification and phytoremediation of heavy metals, his laboratory is developing arsenic free and arsenic tolerant food crops in order to improve human health using both forward and reverse genetic approaches. Prof. Parkash (Dhankher) was the first one to develop the transgenic plant based approach for arsenic phytoremediation by combining the expression of two bacterial genes, arsenate reductase- ArsC and γ-glutamylcysteine synthase- γECS, in plants. Further, he characterized the first plant arsenate reductase, AtACR2, from Arabidopsis using the RNAi knockdown approach. His research team is also engineering crops via manipulating key pathways and network of genes responsible for enhanced tolerance to multiple abiotic and oxidative stresses and GSH homeostasis for improving crop yield under changing climate conditions. Additionally, his lab is involved in metabolic engineering of oil seed crops such as Crambe abyssinica, Camelina sativa and Brassica juncea for increased oil yields for biofuels production and specialized biopolymers for industrial uses.