2017 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research

Kranthi Mandadi, Ph.D.
Texas A&M University

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research awarded eight grants to the 2017 New Innovators in Food and Agriculture Research award recipients. These awardees will receive a total of $4.8 million over five years. The New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research award is designed to provide the early investment needed to launch new faculty members into successful scientific careers in food and agriculture. Learn more about the FFAR New Innovators.

Research Project: A Novel Bioassay for Culturing and Characterizing Fastidious Phytopathogens

Kranthi Mandadi, Ph.D., examines orange trees for signs of disease.

The cumulative crop losses caused by fastidious (or unculturable) plant pathogens runs into billions of dollars annually. For instance, citrus greening and potato zebra chip diseases, caused by fastidious bacteria, has devastated citrus and potato production systems in the U.S and world-wide. Studies of these and other fastidious pathogens are challenging, due to lack of appropriate tools to culture and characterize the pathogens. Dr. Mandadi has developed a novel bioassay, based on plant hairy roots, which will not only allow culturing fastidious pathogens, but will also allow faster screening of disease resistance genes and antimicrobials. Through support from FFAR and Southern Gardens Citrus—a leading producer of orange juice in the U.S, Mandadi will implement this bioassay towards high-throughput screening of antimicrobial genes and chemicals effective against pathogens causing citrus greening and potato zebra chip diseases. The research findings can be translated into disease management strategies in the field that will help growers and the industry to combat the billions of dollars of annual losses.

About Kranthi Mandadi

Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University

Kranthi Mandadi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center, Weslaco, Texas. Kranthi obtained his B.S. degree in Agricultural Sciences from A.N.G.R. Agricultural University, India. He then pursued his graduate studies (M.S. and Ph.D.), and postdoctoral research in plant biology and virology areas at the Texas A&M University. Kranthi is passionate about taking up challenging research projects, and addressing critical ‘knowledge gaps’ in the field. His current projects span both fundamental and translational research relevant to multiple plant diseases which threaten global food production and security. Kranthi is also very committed to mentoring students and junior scientists, as well as serving the plant sciences community. He is an active member of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), American Phytopathological Society (APS) and Texas Plant Protection Association (TPPA). Currently, he is serving as the Vice-President of TPPA, and committee member of ASPB international committee—roles in which he is advancing plant science educational, research and networking opportunities.

Lab website: agrilife.org/mandadilab