Khareedu Venkateswara Rao obtained his BSc and MSc (Genetics) degrees from the Osmania University, Hyderabad. Later, he joined the Department of Genetics, Osmania University (1981-86), where he obtained his PhD in plant genetics under the supervision of Professor G. M. Reddy. He worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow (1992-95) in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, USA, under the supervision of Professor Thomas K. Hodges. Since 1989, he has been working as a faculty at the Centre for Plant Molecular Biology (CPMB), Department of Genetics, Osmania University, Hyderabad.
Academic and Research Achievements: Prof. Rao’s research mainly focused in the area of development of transgenic crops for the improvement of different agronomic traits. He developed, for the first time, transgenic commercial indica rice varieties, expressing mannose-specific lectins (GNA and ASAL), resistant to major sap-sucking pests, and also evaluated them under field conditions in the hopper-prone areas. He established protocols for genetic transformation of cotton and produced transgenic plants resistant to major sap-sucking pests. He developed the fusion-protein (Cry1Ac-ASAL) containing DI & DII domains of Cry and the carbohydrate binding domain of ASAL, which was found superior to the parental proteins against major insects. He isolated several stress-inducible genes from pigeonpea, and their overexpression in Arabidopsis and rice exhibited significant tolerance against multiple abiotic stresses. He analyzed the anther-/pollen-specificity of different inflorescence-specific promoters of rice, and successfully engineered an inducible male-sterility system for production of hybrid rice varieties. He has published about 100 research articles in different national and international journals of repute. So far twelve students have completed their PhD degree under his supervision.
Other Contributions: His laboratory at the CPMB, Osmania University, was the first in the country to develop transgenic rice cultivars against major sap-sucking pests and to conduct contained field trials in hopper-prone areas (2001-2002). The developed transgenic technology has been transferred to M/S. Swarna Bharat Biotech Pvt. Ltd., which represents the major rice seed companies of Hyderabad. Thousands of activation tagged lines of rice have been generated for various agronomic attributes. Awards and Honours: Prof. Rao is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Akademi of Sciences, Hyderabad.