Harkamal Walia

Associate Professor, Heuermann Professorship

B.S., Plant Breeding and Genetics, Punjab Agricultural University, India, 2000

Ph.D., Plant Biology, University of California, Riverside, 2005

Area of Focus

Plant Physiology Crop Genomics and Plant Molecular Physiologist

Research Interests

Unfavorable environmental conditions such as drought, high and low temperature stress, salinity, and flooding result in heavy crop yield losses in the U.S. and worldwide. These stressful conditions are increasingly associated with a shift in agriculture to marginal lands and erratic climatic changes. My research interest is in understanding how plants adapt to these environmental stresses. I am particularly interested in the physiological and molecular characterization of crop responses to drought, heat and salt stress. Plant responses to stress depend on the developmental stage at which the stressful conditions arise.

Research in the lab focuses on stress tolerance during developmental stages that are particularly sensitive to abiotic stresses resulting in yield and biomass losses. We are using genomics, biochemical, computational and physiological approaches to elucidate the mechanisms involved in abiotic stress tolerance in cereals such as wheat, maize, and rice among others. The overall research goal is to discover genes and genetic variants that can be used to improve crop performance in sub-optimal growing conditions.

Major Project Activities

  • Functional characterization of drought-regulated genes during reproductive development.
  • Genetic and physiological characterization of roots in wheat during drought stress.
  • Comparative transcriptome analyses of cereals crops in response to a suite of abiotic stresses.
  • Elucidating the gene networks regulating early seed development and seed size in cereals.

Positions Available

Walia lab has positions open for a graduate student, postdoctoral position, and opportunities for undergraduate research experience. If you are interested in applying for a graduate or postdoctoral fellowship I will be happy to work with you to secure funding for joining the program. Please check the following links for opportunities:


  • Folsom, J.J., Begcy, K., Xiaojuan, H., Wang, D., Walia H., Rice FIE1 regulates seed size under heat stress by controlling early endosperm development. 2014, Plant Physiology (in press)
  • Placido D. F., Campbell M. T., Jin J., Cui X., Kruger G. R., Baenziger P. S., Walia H., Introgression of novel traits from a wild wheat relative improves drought adaptation in wheat (Triticum aestivum). 2013, Plant Physiology (in press)
  • Schmitz A., Jin J., Jikamaru Y., Ronald P., Walia H., SUB1A-mediated submergence tolerance response in rice involves differential regulation of the brassinosteroid pathway. 2013, New Phytologist (in press)
  • Seo Y.S., Chern M., Bartley L.E., Han M., Jung K.H., Lee I., Walia H., Richter T., Xu X., Cao P., Bai W., Ramanan R., Amonpant F., Arul L., Canlas P.E., Ruan R., Park C.J., Chen X., Hwang S., Jeon J.S., Ronald P.C.,Towards establishment of a rice stress response interactome. 2011, PLoS Genetics
  • Peleg Z., Reguera M., Walia H., Blumwald E., Cytokinin mediated source-sink modifications improve drought tolerance and increase grain yield in rice under water stress. 2011, Plant Biotechnology Journal 9(7):747-58
  • Rivero R.M., Gimeno J., Van Deynze A., Walia H., Blumwald E., Enhanced cytokinin synthesis in tobacco plants expressing SARK::IPT prevents the degradation of photosynthetic protein complexes during drought. 2010, Plant and Cell Physiology 51(11):1929-41
  • Cotsaftis O., Plett D., Johnson A.T., Walia H., Wilson C., Ismail A.M., Close T.J., Tester M., Baumann U., Root-specific transcript profiling of contrasting rice genotypes in response to salinity stress. 2010, Molecular Plant
  • Laurent J., Vogel C., Kwon T., Craig S.A., Boutz D.R., Huse H.K., Nozue K., Walia H., Whiteley M., Ronald P.C., Marcotte E.M., Protein abundances are more conserved than mRNA abundances across diverse taxa. 2010, Proteomics
  • Jung, K.H., Seo, Y.S., Walia, H., Cao, P., Fukao, T., Canlas, P., Amonpant, F., Bailey-Serres, J., Ronald, P.C., The submergence tolerance regulator Sub1A mediates stress-responsive expression of AP2/ERF transcriptional factor. 2010, Plant Physiology 152(3):1674-92
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Ismail, A., Close, T.J., Cui, X., Comparing genomic expression patterns across plant species reveals highly diverged transcriptional dynamics in response to salt stress. 2009, BMC Genomics 10:398
  • Walia, H., Josefsson, C., Dilkes, B., Kirkbride, R., Harada, J., Comai, L., Dosage-dependent deregulation of an AGAMOUS-LIKE GENES cluster contributes to interspecific incompatibility. 2009, Current Biology 19(13):1128-1132
  • Kim, S.-H., Bhat P.R., Cui, X., Walia, H., Xu, J., Wanamaker, S., Ismail, A., Wilson, C., Close, T.J., Detection and validation of single feature polymorphisms using RNA expression data from a rice genome array. 2009, BMC Plant Biology 9(1):65
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Condamine, P., Ismail, A., Zeng, L., Xu, J., Cui, X., Close, T.J., Array-Based Genotyping and Expression Analysis of Barley cv. Maythorpe and Golden Promise. 2007, BMC Genomics 8:84
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Liu, X., Ismail, A., Close, T.J., Transcriptional profiling of rice under salinity stress during panicle initiation stage. 2007, Plant Molecular Biology, 63(5): 609-623
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Condamine, P., Liu, X., Close, T.J., Role of jasmonic acid in improving salinity tolerance of barley revealed by physiological and large scale gene expression studies. 2007, Plant, Cell and Environment 30(4): 410-421
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Wahid, A., Cui, X., Wanamaker, S., Close, T.J., Expression profiling of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) under salinity stress. 2006, Functional and Integrative Genomics 6: 143-153
  • Walia, H., Wilson, C., Condamine, P., Liu, X., Ismail, A., Zeng, L., Wanamaker, S. I., Mandal, J., Cui, X., Xu, J., Close, T.J., Comparative transcriptional profiling of two contrasting rice (Oryza sativa L.) genotypes under salinity stress during vegetative growth stage. 2005, Plant Physiology 139: 822-835
  • Rostoks, N., Mudie, S., Cardle, L., Russell, J., Ramsay, L., Svensson J.T., Wanamaker S., Walia H., Rodriguez E., Hedley P., Liu H., Close T.J., Marshall D., Waugh R., SNP-based barley integrated linkage map developed from genes responsive to abiotic stress identifies regions of conserved synteny in barley and rice. 2005, Mol Genet Genomics 274(5): 515-527