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Kranthi Varala

Horticulture and Landscape Architecture 

  • Assistant Professor of Horticulture
Horticulture Building Room 307


My research focuses on how plants perceive abiotic stress and alter their transcriptional programs as a response to the specific stress. My lab aims to capture natural genetic variation and the resultant transcriptional states leading to plant adaptation and resilience by using a combination of genomic, systems biology and phylogenetic tools. Specifically, the research aims to understand how plants alter their transcriptional program immediately in response to thermal stress in the short term. In the long term we want to understand how plants change their overall gene expression regime on evolutionary scales to adapt to colder and warmer climates.

My research uses phylogenomic approaches to identify gene-to-trait association by tracking recurring changes in plant genomes that co-occur with the gain/loss of a trait. Independently, we apply systems biology approaches in the model plants, to understand transcriptional reprogramming in response to environmental stimuli such as temperature, nutrition etc. We are particularly interested in whether these transient changes in the plant transcriptome offer insights into plant adaptation to diverse environments. 

More information

Selected Publications

Varala, K. (2019). Chilling Injury on Young Warm-season Vegetable Plants. Retrieved from https://vegcropshotline.org/article/chilling-injury-on-young-warm-season-vegetable-plants/

Brooks, M. D., Cirrone, J., Pasquino, A. V., Alvarez, J. M., Swift, J., Mittal, S., . . . Coruzzi, G. M. (2019). Network Walking charts transcriptional dynamics of nitrogen signaling by integrating validated and predicted genome-wide interactions. Nature Communications, 10(1), 1569. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09522-1

Tuteja, J. H., Zabala, G., Varala, K., Hudson, M., & Vodkin, L. O. (2009). Endogenous, Tissue-Specific Short Interfering RNAs Silence the Chalcone Synthase Gene Family in Glycine max Seed Coats. The Plant Cell, 21(10), 3063-3077. doi:10.1105/tpc.109.069856

Varala, K., Marshall-Colon, A., Cirrone, J., Brook, M. D., Pasquino, A. V., Leran, S., . . . Coruzzi, G. M. (2018). Temporal transcriptional logic of dynamic regulatory networks underlying nitrogen signaling and use in plants. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 115(25), 6494-6499. doi:10.1073/pnas.1721487115

Varala, K. (2018). A Bioinformatics Pipeline to Explore Transcriptional Regulation in Plants. Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. The Plant Cell, Online. doi:doi/10.1105/tpc.118.tt0918

Findley, S. D., Cannon, S., Varala, K., Du, J., Ma, J., Hudson, M. E., . . . Stacey, G. (2010). A Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization System for Karyotyping Soybean. GENETICS, 185(3), 727-744. doi:10.1534/genetics.109.113753

Toth, A. L., Varala, K., Henshaw, M. T., Rodriguez-Zas, S. L., Hudson, M. E., & Robinson, G. E. (2010). Brain transcriptomic analysis in paper wasps identifies genes associated with behaviour across social insect lineages. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 277(1691), 2139-2148. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0090

Tuteja, J. H., Zabala, G., Varala, K., Hudson, M., & Vodkin, L. O. (2010). Endogenous, Tissue-Specific Short Interfering RNAs Silence the Chalcone Synthase Gene Family in Glycine max Seed Coats (vol 21, pg 3063, 2009) PLANT CELL, 22(5), 1647-1647. doi:10.1105/tpc.110.220560

Swaminathan, K., Alabady, M. S., Varala, K., De Paoli, Emanuele, Ho, I., Rokhsar, D. S., . . . Hudson, M. E. (2010). Genomic and small RNA sequencing of Miscanthus x giganteus shows the utility of sorghum as a reference genome sequence for Andropogoneae grasses. GENOME BIOLOGY, 11(2). doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-2-r12

Schwarz, D., Robertson, H. M., Feder, J. L., Varala, K., Hudson, M. E., Ragland, G. J., . . . Berlocher, S. H. (2009). Sympatric ecological speciation meets pyrosequencing: sampling the transcriptome of the apple maggot Rhagoletis pomonella. BMC GENOMICS, 10. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-633

Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010 USA, (765) 494-1300

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