Harkamal Walia


·Nebraska Food for Health Center

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Harkamal Walia

Professor, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellow, Heuermann Chair of Agronomy

Area of Expertise: Plant Breeding and Genetics

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

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

Area of Focus

Crop Abiotic Stress Tolerance, Phenomics and Functional Genomics

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 heat-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.


Selected Publications from Google Scholar

  • Campbell MT, Nonoy Bandillo N, Al Shiblawi F, Sharma S, Liu K, Du Q, Schmitz AJ, Zhang C, Véry AA, Lorenz AJ, Walia H, Allelic variants of OsHKT1;1 underlie the divergence between Indica and Japonica subspecies of rice (Oryza sativa) for root sodium content. 2017, PLOS Genetics
  • Campbell MT, Knecht AC, Berger B, Brien CJ, Wang D, Walia H, Integrating image-based phenomics and association analysis to dissect the genetic architecture of temporal salinity responses in rice. 2015, Plant Physiology 168(4):1476-89
  • Folsom JJ, Begcy K, Xiaojuan H, Wang D, Walia H, Rice FIE1 regulates seed size under heat stress by controlling early endosperm development. 2014, Plant Physiology
  • 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
  • Placido DF, Campbell MT, Jin J, Cui X, Kruger GR, Baenziger PS, Walia H, Introgression of novel traits from a wild wheat relative improves drought adaptation in wheat. 2013, Plant Physiology