Dr Viswambharan Sarasan

Research Leader


Ecosystem Stewardship


Conservation Genetics and Molecular Ecology


In vitro biology, orchid conservation, orchid mycorrhizal fungi, connecting people with nature, synthetic polyploids, somatic embryogenesis.

My research focuses on the identification and use of fungal mycorrhizae for orchid conservation. I am using in vitro systems to study interactions between orchids and mycorrhizal fungi. The aim is to understand drivers of successful seed germination, growth and reintroduction/reinforcement of seedlings in the wild of those orchids that are threatened with extinction. I am also interested in the production of synthetic polyploids to produce breeding parents for crops such as coffee. One of the emerging areas of my research is to use threatened native orchids as a tool to connect people with nature studying cultural ecosystem services provided by charismatic plants. This will include identifying very rare orchids for displays in wild settings and in urban landscapes targeting people of all ages, especially children and senior citizens, to improve awareness about biodiversity and its protection. Biotic and abiotic stressors will be tested in orchids grown in vitro via symbiotically and symbiotically underpinning climate change variables such as drought and elevated temperature.  

  • PhD, University of Kerala, India, 1994
  • MSc, University of Kerala, India,1988
  • BSc, University of Kerala, India, 1982

Suz, L.M., Sarasan, V., Wearn, J.A., Bidartondo, M.I., Hodkinson, T.R., Kowal, J., et al. (2018).

Positive plant–fungal interactions.

In State of the World’s Fungi, K. J. Willis (ed.), 32-39

Schofield, E., Jones, E.P. & Sarasan, V. (2018).

Cryopreservation without vitrification suitable for large scale cryopreservation of orchid seeds.

Botanical Studies 59:1-9

Kendon, J.P., Rajaovelona, L., Sandford, H., Fang, R., Bell, J. & Sarasan V. (2017).

Collecting near mature and immature orchid seeds for ex situ conservation - ‘In Vitro Collecting’ as a case study.

Botanical Studies 58:34.

Price, E.J., Wilkin, P., Sarasan, V. & Fraser, P.D. (2016).

Metabolite profiling of Dioscorea (yam) species reveals underutilised biodiversity and renewable sources for high-value compounds.

Scientific Reports-Nature 6:29136.

Rafter M., Yokoya, K., Schofield, E.J., Zettler, L.W. & Sarasan, V. (2016).

Non-specific symbiotic germination of Cynorkis purpurea (Thouars) Kraezl., a habitat-specific terrestrial orchid from the Central Highlands of Madagascar.

Mycorrhiza 17:541–552.

Yokoya, K., Zettler, L.W., Kendon, J.P., Bidartondo, M.I., Stice, A.L., Skarha, S., Corey, L.L., Knight, A.C. & Sarasan, V. (2015).

Preliminary findings on identification of mycorrhizal fungi from diverse orchids in the Central Highlands of Madagascar.

Mycorrhiza 25: 611–625.

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. 

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Viswambharan Sarasan

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Viswambharan Sarasan