Rita Sharma

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

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

I am deeply inspired by the historic innovations that led to the domestication of modern-day crop plants and, equally astonished by the fact that out of estimated 30,000 edible plant species on the earth, we human beings only cultivate about 150 of them with more than 70% of our calories coming from only 15 crops. Further, more than 50% of these calories are contributed by only three cereal crops namely, rice, maize and wheat. These choices, driven by a simpler need of feeding the increasing population in the past, have to be revisited in the wake of limiting resources, deteriorating environment and changing nutritional requirements. With an overall aim to gain deeper insights into the evolution and domestication of agronomically important plants that led to modern day crops and, facilitate de novo domestication for development of multipurpose climate-ready smart crops for the future, my research leverages the synergism of plant biotechnology and computational biology to facilitate data-driven precision agriculture.

Listed below are the key area of focus in my lab:

  1. Harnessing plant biotechnology coupled with big data analytics for crop improvement
  2. Feedstock improvement for biofuels
  3. Comparative genomics and molecular evolution
  4. Development of new resources, tools and technologies for plant research