A microscopy image showing layers in different colors and a network of neurons

Department of

Photo of Kalika  Prasad

Kalika Prasad

Associate Professor


Stem cell, regeneration and patterning in plants



Kalika Prasad obtained his PhD from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was EMBO post doctoral fellow at Utrecht University, The Netherlands and then moved to IISER Thiruvananthapuram as group leader.


Cellular reprogramming and developmental plasticity in plants

The extreme fantasies of regeneration paraded by many mythological and comic characters are encompassed in one single life form: the plant. Remarkable ability to repair the damaged body parts and to regenerate organs lost in injury is prevalent across the kingdoms. While in animals this ability is restricted to specific lineages, it is universal in plants. Plants not only regrow lost parts, but even regenerate an entire new plant from a few pre-existing cells irrespective of their origin and developmental context. In response to the damage caused by biotic and abiotic factors, cells in the vicinity of wound must respond promptly and get reprogrammed to repair the damage. This is strikingly different from animal kingdom, where specialized cells can be recruited to the wound site. Plants are likely to deploy kingdom-specific mechanisms to deal with intrinsic differences such as lack of cell migration, a key cellular process, extensively utilized in animal regeneration. This makes plant regeneration an interesting model to underpin the basic principles and dynamics of self-organization.

Our laboratory uses tissue-culture-mediated de novo shoot regeneration and innate ability of restoration of tissue or organ lost in injury as models to address fundamental questions related to acquisition of pluripotent state, reconstitution of stem cells, dynamics of cellular behaviour, assembly of regulatory interactions and gene regulatory network. Most of our inferences are based on live imaging of cytological events during regeneration. We use interdisciplinary approaches which combine molecular biological tools, genetics, genomics, bio-imaging and computational modelling to unearth the mechanisms of cellular reprogramming and developmental plasticity in plant.

Selected Publications

Varapparambath V, Mathew MM, Shanmukhan AP, Radhakrishnan D, Kareem A, Verma S, Ramalho JJ, Manoj B, Vellandath AR, Aiyaz M, Radha RK, Landge AN, Mähönen AP, Heisler MG, Weijers D, Prasad K. (2022). Mechanical conflict caused by a cell-wall-loosening enzyme activates de novo shoot regeneration. Developmental Cell. 12;57(17):2063-2080.e10. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2022.07.017.  (Featured on Cover, highlighted in Preview: Shoot meristem progenitors emerge from mechanical heterogeneities. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2022.08.004 (Olivier, 2022), highlighted in Faculty Opinions: https://facultyopinions.com/article/74229178)

Radhakrishnan, D., Shanmukhan, AP., Kareem, A., Aiyaz, M., Varapparambathu, V., Toms, A., Kerstens, M., Valsakumar, D., Landge, AN., Shaji, A., Mathew, MK., Sawchuk MG., Scarpella, E., Krizek, BA., Efroni, I., Mähönen, AP., Willemsen, V., Scheres, B., Prasad K. (2020) A coherent feed forward loop drives vascular regeneration in damaged aerial organs growing in normal developmental-context. Development. 147: dev185710. (Featured on Cover, Selected for the highlights of the issue)

Durgaprasad K, Roy MV, Venugopal MA, Kareem A, Raj K, Willemsen V, Mähönen AP, Scheres B, Prasad K. Gradient Expression of Transcription Factor Imposes a Boundary on Organ Regeneration Potential in Plants. Cell Reports. 2019;29(2):453‐463.e3. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2019.08.099 (Featured on Cover, Recommended by F1000 )

Kareem A, Durgaprasad K, Sugimoto K, Du Y, Pulianmackal AJ, Trivedi ZB, Abhayadev PV, Pinon V, Meyerowitz EM, Scheres B, Prasad K. (2015) PLETHORA Genes Control Regeneration by a Two-Step Mechanism. Current Biology. 25(8):1017‐1030. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.022 (Featured on Cover)