Muthusamy Manoharan - Associate Professor/ Graduate Program Coordinator, AR P3 Center Campus Lead - University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Muthusamy M
Phone: 870-575-8543 (Office) 870-575-8891 (Lab)
Address: Department of Agriculture, 144 Woodard Hall, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pine Bluff, AR 71601


 Cluster Identification:
- Comparative Metabolomics Cluster

Research Areas/Expertise:
- Plant secondary metabolism/ metabolomics/ metabolomic engineering
- Phytochemicals and human health
- Transformation technologies
- Transcriptomics

Research Summary | Selected Publications | Lab Members | Key Collaborators | Research Projects | Links

Research Summary:

Current research in Manoharan’s laboratory include: 1). Metabolic engineering of isoflavone in rice, and 2) Manipulation of lignin biosynthesis in rice.  Isoflavones are secondary metabolites (phytochemicals) that are produced in soybeans and associated with such health benefits as decreased risk of heart disease, reduced risk of some hormone-related cancers and reduced menopausal symptoms. Rice does not produce isoflavones, and metabolic engineering of isoflavone in rice may significantly improve human health. Manoharan’s laboratory generated several transgenic lines expressing chalcone synthase (CHS), isoflavone synthase (IFS) and CRC transcription factors in rice. Collaborators of this project include Dr. Oliver Yu, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO and Yulin Jia, Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, Stuttgart, AR.

Ethanol from biomass has become an increasingly popular alternative to gasoline. Rice straw has several characteristics that make it a potential feedstock for fuel ethanol production. It has high cellulose and hemicelluloses content that can be readily hydrolyzed into fermentable sugars. In terms of chemical composition, the straw predominantly contains cellulose (32–47%), hemicellulose (19–27%) and lignin (5–24%).  Unfortunately, the presence of lignin in rice straw impedes the breakdown of cell wall polysaccharides to simple sugars and the subsequent conversion of these sugars to usable biofuel. Therefore, it would be advantageous to decrease the lignin content of rice through genetic modification for efficient conversion of rice straw to cellulosic biofuel. Currently, Manoharan’s laboratory, in collaboration with Drs. Vibha Srivastava, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and Venugopal Kalavacharla, Delaware State University, is involved in down-regulation of genes such as cinnamate 4-hydroxylase (C4H), hydroxycinnamoyl CoA: shikimate hydroxycinnamoyl transferase (HCT) and coumarate 3-hydroxylase (C3'H) in rice using silencing constructs.

Selected Publications:

N. N. Renukdas, M. Manoharan and J.O. Garner 2010. In vitro propagation of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh) K. Koch] Plant Biotechnology 27: 211-215.

P. Bregitzer, L.S. Dahleen, S. Neate, P. Schwarz, and M. Manoharan 2008. A single backcross is an effective tool for the elimination of agronomic and quality alterations caused by somaclonal variation in transgenic barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Crop Science 48: 471-479.

L.S. Dahleen and M. Manoharan 2007 (Invited review). Recent advances in barley transformation. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 43: 493 – 506.

D.J. Tobias., M. Manoharan, C. Pritsch, and L.S. Dahleen 2007. Co-bombardment, integration and expression patterns of rice chitinase and thaumatin-like protein genes in barley (Hordeum vulgare cv. Conlon). Plant Cell Reports 26: 631-639.

M. Manoharan., L.S. Dahleen et al. 2006. Expression of 3-OH trichothecene acetyltransferase in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and effects on deoxynivalenol. Plant Science 171: 699-706. 

M. Manoharan, and L.S. Dahleen. 2002. Genetic transformation of the commercial barley  (Hordeum vulgare L.) cultivar Conlon by particle bombardment of callus. Plant Cell Reports 21: 76-80.

Lab Members:


Manoharan Muthusamy, PhD, University of Pine Bluff
Associate Professor/ Graduate Program Coordinator, Agriculture; 870-575-8543

Sathish Kumar Ponniah, PhD
Extension Associate, Agriculture; 870-575-8891

Sivasubramanian Balasubramanian, PhD
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Agriculture; 870-575-8891

Keisha Cawley
Undergraduate Student, Biology; 870-575-8891

Nalita Holt
Undergraduate Student, Biology; 870-575-8891

Ashley Adrich
Undergraduate Student, Biology; 870-575-8891


Key Collaborators

Dr. Vibha Srivastava, plant biotechnology | University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Dr. Venugopal Kalavacharla,  plant molecular genetics and genomics | Delaware State University

Dr. Oliver Yu, function/regulation of flavonoid and isoflavonoid biosynthesis | Danforth Center

Dr. Yulin Jia, research plant pathologist | USDA, Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center

Research Projects

M. Manoharan (PI), V. Srivastava, and V. Kalavacharla. Terminator-less transgene constructs for efficient gene silencing in crop plants. USDA-NIFA, $500,000 (2010-2013)

M. Manoharan (Co-PI & Campus Lead). Arkansas ASSET II. National Science Foundation (NSF) - EPSCoR, $721,513 (201-2015)

V. Kalavacharla, M. Manoharan (Co-PI) and N. Donofrio. Development of molecular genetic and genomic resources for disease resistance in common bean. USDA-CSREES, $499,809 (2007- 2012).