Balakumaran Chandrasekar: The Plant Cell First Author

Balakumaran Chandrasekar, co-first author of “Fungi hijack a ubiquitous plant apoplastic endoglucanase to release a ROS scavenging β-glucan decasaccharide to subvert immune responses”

Current Position:  

Assistant Professor (Plant Biotechnology), Department of Biological Sciences, Birla Institute of Science and Technology (BITS-Pilani), Pilani, India


Ph.D. in Natural Sciences, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany and the University of Bonn, Germany; M.Sc. in Plant Sciences, The University of Bonn, Germany. B.Tech in Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India.

Non-scientific Interests:

Travelling, hiking, swimming

Brief bio:

My research interests are centered around elucidating the biological functions of carbohydrates and carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes). My Ph.D. research period at the University of Oxford, under the guidance of Prof. Renier van der Hoorn introduced me to the world of ‘Glycobiology’. During my Ph.D. studies, I have employed novel chemical probes for profiling plant glycosidases during bacterial infections. An immense fascination towards the structural diversity of glycans that are targeted by CAZymes motivated me to pursue my postdoctoral research at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany (2017-2020) under the guidance of Prof. Markus Pauly. During my postdoctoral research, I have employed synthetic biology approaches to produce complex cell wall polysaccharides and have also structurally characterized plant cell wall xyloglucans. I was fortunate to work under the guidance of Prof. Alga Zuccaro at the University of Cologne, Germany through the CEPLAS postdoctoral program. The research topic was a perfect amalgamation of my Ph.D. and my first postdoc research experiences that helped me tremendously to carry out my research and to publish in the plant cell journal.

Currently, I have initiated my research group at the Department of biological sciences, BITS-Pilani, India as an Assistant professor (Plant Biotechnology). My research focus at the BITS-Pilani, India would be on ‘Elucidating glycobiology of plant-microbe interactions at the cell wall interface for disease resistance. Besides my research activities here, I also enjoy teaching a large number of students on various topics related to biology at BITS-Pilani, India and am excited about my new journey.