Associate Professor, Turfgrass Breeding & Molecular Genetics
Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Dr. Ambika Chandra joined The Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solution Center in September, 2007, as an Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Molecular Genetics. Dr. Chandra earned her Ph.D. degree in Agronomy from The Pennsylvania State University in 2007 working on a fascinating interaction between smut which causes male buffalograss to develop female sex organs. This kind of sex change is known as induced hermaphroditism and Dr. Chandra's work provided the first molecular mechanism for understanding the underlying parasitically induced hermaphroditism in any organism.
Prior to joining Penn State University, Dr. Chandra received her Bachelor of Arts degree in agriculture and her Masters of Science degree in plant breeding and genetics from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India. As Dr. Chandra joins the AgriLife Urban Solutions Center, she brings with her a vision for finding the simplest and fastest solutions to breeding turfgrasses for Texas and the world.
Her overall research goal is breeding for improved characteristics in important turfgrass species through the use of modern cellular and molecular genetics tools. Her major research focus will be to establish and operate an applied molecular marker laboratory at the AgriLife Urban Solutions Center for identifying genes and/or associated genetic markers for important traits like tolerance to water stress, extreme temperatures, and resistance to insects and pathogens. Her laboratory will routinely use genetic markers to sort through complex genomes of grasses, and for the identification of existing and new germplasm.
In addition, Dr. Chandra's interests include pursuing a functional genomics approach to identifying genes and proteins from grasses whose expression patterns under normal and stressed conditions are correlated with plant's ability to respond and adapt to environmental challenges, and developing and using protocols for genetic transformation of the major turfgrass species grown in Texas.
Dr. Chandra will lead the Turfgrass Breeding effort for the AgriLife Urban Solutions Center while expanding the programs capacity with the molecular tools critical to the advancement of any breeding program.