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Sen Subramanian

Sen Subramanian 2023 protrait


Professor; Associate Dean for Research

Office Building

Edgar S. McFadden Biostress Lab



Mailing Address

McFadden Biostress Laboratory 254C
Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science-Box 2140C
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture (Annamalai University) and Master’s in Biotechnology (Tamil Nadu Agricultural University) in India. I obtained a Ph.D. in biology from the Hong University of Science and Technology studying ABA biosynthesis and signaling in Arabidopsis advised by Dr. Chris Rock (currently at Texas Tech, Lubbock, TX). I had my post-doctoral training studying the roles of plant flavonoids in soybean-microbe interactions at the Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis working with Dr. Oliver Yu (currently CTO of Conagen Inc., and adjunct professor at MIT, Boston, MA). I am currently a Professor in the Departments of Agronomy, Horticulture, & Plant Science, and Biology & Microbiology at South Dakota State University, and am a Senior Investigator in 2DBEST, a virtual bioscience research center co-funded by NSF-EPSCoR and the state of SD. My lab is interested in the regulation of hormone action during symbiotic nodule development and selection of beneficial microbial symbionts by plants.


B.Sc (Agriculture), 1992, Annamalai University, India
M.Sc (Biotechnology), 1995, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India
Ph.D. (Biology), 2002, Hong Kong University of Science and Tech., Hong Kong

Academic Interests

Soybean nodule development
Plant Genetics and Genomics
Plant Microbiome
Plant-Microbe Interactions
Plant Molecular Biology

Professional Memberships

Member, American Society of Plant Biologists (Sectional meeting organizer, 2016; elected Secretary/Treasurer, 2017-19; Vice Chair 2019-20),
Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member, SD Chapter of Gamma, Sigma, Delta - Honor Society of Agriculture (President, 2019; Vice-President 2018)

Area(s) of Research

Our global agricultural nitrogen needs are met by a combination of chemical fertilizers, and biological nitrogen fixation that occurs in specialized organs called root nodules in crop plants such as soybean. My lab's research program seeks to meet our agricultural nitrogen needs in a sustainable manner by increasing the proportion of biologically fixed nitrogen. Towards this goal, my lab has identified key plant hormone mechanisms that regulate nodule formation in soybean. This knowledge is key to develop strategies that maximize biological nitrogen fixation capacity in soybean.

Most land plants grow in intimate association with complex microbiota. Plant-associated microbes can act as protectants against phytopathogens, improve growth through production of phytohormones, acquisition of nutrients, help plants withstand various abiotic stresses and more. Therefore, plant health and productivity can be significantly improved in a sustainable manner by enabling the presence of an optimal beneficial microbial community. My lab has engaged with a team of researchers including bioinformaticians, soil scientists, agronomists, and microbiologists with the goal of determining and optimizing the ideotype microbiomes of crop plants.



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