Balakumaran Chandrasekar

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus

Plant Biotechnology
New Science Block, 3277-G,
Department of Biological Sciences,
Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani- 333031, Rajasthan. India.

About the faculty

Balakumaran Chandrasekar completed his bachelor's degree in Biotechnology at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India (2007-2011). He received a prestigious scholarship ‘Scholarship Plus-Award’ from the German government to pursue his master’s degree in Plant Sciences at the University of Bonn, Germany (2011-2013).
He started his Ph.D. research at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany (2013-) and as a recognized student he has conducted his Ph.D. research at the department of plant sciences, University of Oxford, UK (2014-2017). During his Ph.D. research, he has employed activity-based protein profiling, a chemical proteomic approach to monitor the activities of plant glycosidases during bacterial infections.
His Ph.D. research period introduced him to the world of ‘Glycobiology’. An immense fascination towards the structure of glycans motivated him to pursue his postdoctoral research at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany (2017-2020). During his postdoctoral research, he has employed synthetic biology approaches to produce complex cell wall polysaccharides in yeast (Pichia pastoris) and plant-based systems (Arabidopsis).
After his first postdoctoral period, he has received CEPLAS postdoctoral fellowship to pursue his research at the University of Cologne, Germany (2020-2021). During this period, he has structurally characterized and investigated the biological function of a β-glucan fragment derived from Piriformospora indica during colonization of barley roots.
In June 2021, he has joined the Department of biological sciences, BITS-Pilani, India as an Assistant professor. His research focus at the BITS-Pilani would be on the glycobiology of plant-microbe interactions at the cell wall interface.
Ph.D. positions are open in my laboratory. Students with their own fellowships such as CSIR-Net, DBT-JRF, etc., are encouraged to contact Dr. Balakumaran Chandrasekar for potential research topics!

Research Interest

Welcome to the Chemical Glycobiology Lab  

In brief: Our research group is working on plant-pathogen interactions in crop plants. Especially we focus on the glycans (carbohydrate) and novel proteins that play important role in plant defense. Identification of these key players will eventually lead to the generation of disease-resistant crops using plant biotechnology tools such as CRISPR/cas9. Our research focus is also on the application part of glycans (carbohydrates) for crop protection and human health. 

RP1: Biology: Glycans are carbohydrate-based molecules that play an important role in several biological processes across various domains of life. From a biological perspective, we would like to unravel the roles of novel glycans (in microbes and plants) that are generated by CAZymes (glycosidases and glycosyltransferases) during plant-microbe interactions. Specifically, we would focus on the novel glycan-derived elicitors that are important for immune signaling and disease resistance in crop plants.

RP2: Plant Biotech: The mechanistic insights gained in the RP1 will be used for translational purposes for crop improvement such as generating disease-resistance crops using biotechnology tools such as CRISPR/Cas9. 
RP3: Glyco-biotech: Glycan has a tremendous impact on crop protection by acting as elicitors or biostimulants that trigger the plant immune system. We are using cutting-edge glyco analytical technologies to unravel molecules for crop protection. Furthermore, glycans also have a tremendous impact on human health and therapeutics. We aim to synthesize novel glycans in heterologous systems using synthetic biology approaches.
Technology: We will employ state-of-the-art of complex carbohydrate analytics and advanced proteomic approaches to address our research questions.