Naveenkumar Athiyannan

Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellow



Research Interests

My research interest is broadly focused on genetics and genomics to understand plant-pathogen interaction. Plants are constantly threatened by a vast number of pathogens that cause diseases. Plants have evolved with genetic resistance to combat these pathogens. I am currently working on identifying the genetic components for resistance against fungal diseases in a global staple food crop “Wheat”.

Selected Publications

  • Abrouk M, Athiyannan N, Müller T, Pailles Y, Stritt C, Roulin AC, Chu C, Liu S, Morita T, Handa H, Poland J, Keller B, Krattinger SG (2021) Population genomics and haplotype analysis in spelt and bread wheat identifies a gene regulating glume color. Communications Biology 4:1–11
  • Md Hatta MA, Ghosh S, Athiyannan N, Richardson T, Steuernagel B, Yu G, Rouse MN, Ayliffe M, Lagudah ES, Radhakrishnan GV, Periyannan SK, Wulff BBH (2020) Extensive Genetic Variation at the Sr22 Wheat Stem Rust Resistance Gene Locus in the Grasses Revealed Through Evolutionary Genomics and Functional Analyses. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 33:1286–1298
  • Arora S, Steuernagel B, Gaurav K, Chandramohan S, Long Y, Matny O, Johnson R, Enk J, Periyannan S, Singh N, Asyraf Md Hatta M, Athiyannan N, Cheema J, Yu G, Kangara N, Ghosh S, Szabo LJ, Poland J, Bariana H, Jones JDG, Bentley AR, Ayliffe M, Olson E, Xu SS, Steffenson BJ, Lagudah E, Wulff BBH (2019) Resistance gene cloning from a wild crop relative by sequence capture and association genetics. Nature Biotechnology 37:139–143.
  • Riaz A, Athiyannan N, Periyannan SK, Afanasenko O, Mitrofanova OP, Platz GJ, Aitken EABB, Snowdon RJ, Lagudah ES, Hickey LT, Voss-Fels KP (2018) Unlocking new alleles for leaf rust resistance in the Vavilov wheat collection. Theor Appl Genet 131:127–144.
  • Riaz A, Athiyannan N, Periyannan S, Afanasenko O, Mitrofanova O, Aitken EAB, Lagudah E, Hickey LT (2017) Mining Vavilov’s Treasure Chest of Wheat Diversity for Adult Plant Resistance to Puccinia triticina. Plant Dis 101:317–323. 


  • 2019 PhD, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • 2009 MSc, Biochemistry, Bharathiar University, India

Professional Profile

  • 2019-present: Postdoctoral fellow, KAUST, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia 
  • 2018-2019: Research Assistant, CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Canberra, Australia 
  • 2010-2015: Senior Research Fellow, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • The Indian Science Congress
  • Society for Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology (India)
  • Society of Biological Chemists (India)
  • Australian Society for Plant Scientists (ASPS)


  • CSIRO Chairman’s Medal for Science and Excellence (Team award), CSIRO, Canberra, Australia, 2017
  • Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) Travel award, 2017
  • CSIRO Agriculture and Food Director’s Diversity and Inclusion Award (Team award)
  • The Crawford Fund Conference Scholar, 2015
  • The University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship, 2014
  • Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship, 2014 

KAUST Affiliations

Prof. Simon Krattinger's Group

CDA - Center for Desert Agriculture

BESE - Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division

Research Interests Keywords

Disease resistance Cereal genetics and genomics Plant-pathogen interactions