Akshaya Biswal is a scientist specialized in plant transformation and tissue culture, working with CIMMYT’s Genetic Resources Program. His current work focuses on application of gene editing to improve host-plant resistance.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)/Cas9-mediated genome editing has revolutionized our ability to study gene function and alter it to improve biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, increase yield potential of crop plants or even to improve the quality of grains. Various plant diseases cause up to 30% yield loss in cereals. Polyploidy in maize and wheat poses additional difficulty to breeders for developing and deploying resistant lines to pathogens. Some these can be solved by biotechnological intervention with relative ease. Biswal’s team uses gene editing to: control Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) in Africa for improved grain harvests; improve stem rust and powdery mildew resistance in wheat; and discover and validate the function of candidate genes underpinning large effect QTLs.
Prior to joining CIMMYT, Biswal completed postdoctoral placements at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the University of North Carolina. He earned a PhD in Biotechnology at Jawaharlal Technological University, an MSc from Banaras Hindu University, and a BSc from Utkal University, India.