Shree Kumar Apte obtained his MSc degree in Botany in 1972 from the Jiwaji University, Gwalior, with a Science Faculty Gold Medal. Subsequently he joined Biology and Agriculture Division of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai as a scientist in 1973. He obtained his PhD degree in 1985 from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad while working under the supervision of late Dr Joseph Thomas (FNA) at BARC. He worked with Professor WDP Stewart (FRS) at the University of Dundee, UK during 1976-77 to elucidate a novel electron donation pathway to nitrogenase in heterocysts of Anabaena. His post-doctoral works with Professor R Haselkorn at the University of Chicago, USA during 1988-89, led to the development of a subtractive RNA hybridization technique for cloning differentially expressed genes. He is currently working as an Outstanding Scientist and Associate Director, Biomedical Group and also heading the Molecular Biology Division at BARC, Mumbai.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Apte has done extensive work on the molecular mechanisms underlying tolerance of bacteria and plants to environmental stresses and their biotechnological applications. His work encompasses diverse fields of physiology, biochemistry, ecology, molecular genetics, developmental biology and biotechnology and addresses the tolerance of bacteria to nutrient deficiency, salinity, drought, heat, pesticide, heavy metals and ionizing radiations. His laboratory has made some original contributions to the physiological/biochemical basis of cyanobacterial nitrogen fixation. He identified signaling cascades responsible for generation of cellular responses to heat, salinity and potassium deficiency and mechanisms underlying cyanobacterial tolerance to salinity and osmotic stresses. His recent work on Deinococcus radiodurans has identified novel phenomena responsible for the unusually high radioresistance of this microbe. His laboratory has genetically engineered Anabaena strains to enhance their nitrogen biofertilizer potential in stressful environments and Deinococcus and other bacteria for uranium recovery from nuclear waste.
Other Contributions: Dr Apte coordinated a national programme on development of transgenic biofertilizer inocula for the Department of Biotechnology and a multi-institutional programme on Thermal Ecology, which evaluated the impact of thermal effluents from two operating nuclear power plants on aquatic ecology. He is currently a member of the INSA Council (2007-09).
Awards and Honours: Dr SK Apte has been the recipient of IAEA Fellowship (1976-77), Nuffield Foundation Fellowship (1984), USAID fellowship (1988-89), Professor JV Bhat Eureka-Forbes Award (1990), International Cyanobacterial Biotechnology Young Scientist Award (1996), INS-2006 Award of the Indian Nuclear Society (2007) and Professor KS Bilgrami Memorial Medal Award of INSA (2007). He is an elected fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi; and Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Guha Research Conference and the current President of the Indian Society of Cell Biology.