Chandrashekar P. Joshi

Chandrashekhar P. Joshi
"Cellulose is the fiber of human civilization."

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  • Department Chair and Professor, Biological Sciences
  • Affiliated Professor, SFRES
  • PhD, Biochemistry, University of Poona, India
  • MS, Botany, University of Poona, India
  • BS, Botany, University of Poona, India

Unraveling the Mechanism of Cellulose Biosynthesis in Trees

I am a plant molecular biologist who is interested in understanding of how trees make cellulose. Simply put, cellulose is a chain of glucose molecules, and a large number of such cellulose chains weave together with other polymers to form plant cell walls. Cellulose biosynthesis is also one of the most ancient and essential life processes of plants.

Due to its omnipresence in terrestrial ecosystems, we use a large number of cellulose products in our day-to-day life in the form of paper, furniture, clothes, medicines and even food. Ironically, we knew little about how plants synthesize cellulose until recently. However, the last decade has witnessed remarkable progress in understanding the molecular mechanisms of cellulose biosynthesis using Arabidopsis, a small herb that has been a sweetheart to many plant scientists. I am attempting to understand whether majestic trees such as poplars and pines that make copious amounts of wood cellulose every year do this feat by using a similar mechanism. To that effect, we have cloned a large number of cellulose synthases and other related genes from poplars and are applying functional genomics approaches to clarify their roles in wood formation.

I love to teach classes in molecular genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. When I clarify a difficult concept, it is always rewarding to see a twinkle of understanding in my student's eyes. I firmly believe that what I am today is because of my teachers, who took time to patiently explain the basic scientific concepts to me. You can learn almost anything if you understand the basics. I also teach a course on how to write successful grant proposals. So far, about 70 graduate students from a variety of disciplines have taken my course and some have even obtained funding for their own research. I always have open research positions for undergraduates and graduates to work in my lab, so feel free to drop me a line or call me. My doors are always open to curious minds!

Links of Interest

Research Interests: Biological Sciences

  • Plant Molecular Genetics

Areas of Expertise: Biology and Forestry

  • Cellulose and lignin biosynthesis in trees
  • Wood formation
  • Tree growth and development
  • Engineering trees
  • Forest bioinformatics