Naveenkumar Athiyannan

Postdoctoral Fellow

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

  • Resistance gene cloning from a wild crop relative by sequence capture and association genetics. 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. Nature Biotechnology 37:139–143. 
  • Unlocking new alleles for leaf rust resistance in the Vavilov wheat collection. Riaz A, Athiyannan N, Periyannan SK, Afanasenko O, Mitrofanova OP, Platz GJ, Aitken EABB, Snowdon RJ, Lagudah ES, Hickey LT, Voss-Fels KP. 2018. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 131:127–144. 
  • Mining Vavilov’s Treasure Chest of Wheat Diversity for Adult Plant Resistance to Puccinia triticina. Riaz A, Athiyannan N, Periyannan S, Afanasenko O, Mitrofanova O, Aitken EAB, Lagudah E, Hickey LT. 2017. Plant Disease 101:317–323. 
  • Expression and inheritance of chimeric cry2AX1 gene in transgenic cotton plants generated through somatic embryogenesis. Sakthi AR, Naveenkumar A, Deepikha PS, Balakrishnan N, Kumar KK, Devi EK, Balasubramani V, Arul L, Singh PK, Sudhakar D, Udayasuriyan V, Balasubramanian P. 2015. InVitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Plant 51:379–389. 
  • Characterization of parasporin gene harbouring Indian isolates of Bacillus thuringiensis. Lenina NK, Naveenkumar A, Sozhavendan AE, Balakrishnan N, Balasubramani V, Udayasuriyan V. 2014. 3 Biotech 4:545–551. 


  • Ph.D., Plant Biology, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, Australia, 2019
  • M.Sc., Biochemistry, Bharathiar University, India, 2009
  • B.Sc., Biochemistry, Bharathiar University, India, 2007 

Professional Profile

  • Since 2019: 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 Molecular biology and Biochemistry