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Sarasan, Viswambharan

Photo of Viswambharan Sarasan
Job title: 

Research Leader (Chemical Ecology and In Vitro Biology)

Natural Capital and Plant Health
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 

Malayalam and basic Hindi

Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc, Botany (University of Kerala, India), 1982
  • MSc, Botany (University of Kerala, India), 1987
  • PhD (University of Kerala, India), 1992
  • Visiting Professor (Bharathiar University, India), 2013
  • Guest Editor for In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant, 2011

My research interests lie broadly in the areas of in vitro biology and more specifically in the study of plant-microbe interactions. My work in the area of plant-microbe interactions has been inspired by the success of my team’s work in characterising fungal endophytes and their use in improving seed germination and subsequent growth. The progress so far in this area has already been instrumental in studying relationships between the ubiquitous fungal endophytes and orchids of Madagascar and the UK. Current research is focussed on surveying diverse ecosystems and unique plant groups to study fungal endophyte communities. Further work on the effects of fungal endophytes on growth, stress tolerance and other key attributes in both plants of conservation and economic importance is in progress.

My group is also working on cryopreservation protocols incorporating mycosymbionts for specialist groups such as orchids, and novel micropropagation systems for crops and rare plants.

Selected publications: 

Baker, K., Lambdon, P., Jones, E., Pellicer, J., Stroud, S., Renshaw, O., Nissalo, N., Corcoran, M., Clubbe, C. & Sarasan V. (2014). Rescue, ecology and conservation of a rediscovered island endemic fern (Anogramma ascensionis): ex situ methodologies and a road map for species reintroduction and habitat restoration. Botanical Journal of Linnaean Society 174: 461–477. Available online

Blackson, L. K. T. , Zulu, D., Sileshi, G. W., Teklehaimanot, Z., Gondwe, D. S. B., Sarasan, V. & Stevenson, P. (2011). Seed germination and in vitro regeneration of the pan African medicinal and pesticidal plant Bobgunnia madagascariensis. African Journal of Biotechnology 10: 5959-5966. Available online

Sarasan, V., Kite, G. C., Sileshi, G. W. & Stevenson, P. C. (2011). Applications of phytochemical and in vitro techniques for reducing over-harvesting of medicinal and pesticidal plants and generating income for the rural poor. Plant Cell Reports 30: 1163-1172. Available online

Reed, B.M., Sarasan, V., Kane, M., Bunn, E. & Pence, V. C. (2011). Biodiversity conservation and conservation biotechnology tools. In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant 47: 1-4. Available online

Marriott, P. & Sarasan, V. (2010). Novel micropropagation and weaning methods for the integrated conservation of a critically endangered tree species, Medusagyne oppositifolia. In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant 46: 516-523. Available online