Dr Pradeep Deo

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Chief Investigator

Ph.D (The University of the South Pacific), PhD (The University of the South Pacific)

Dr. Pradeep Deo obtained his PhD in Biology from The University of the South Pacific in 2009. The research topic was Somatic Embryogenesis and Transformation in Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. esculenta). This PhD research had two components: plant tissue/cell culture and plant transformation (molecular biology). This was a collaborative project between USP, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia and The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji. Although enrolled at the University of the South Pacific, Dr. Deo spent the final 18 months of his PhD at QUT where he developed the embryogenic cell suspension and transformation protocol. Dr Deo has extensive research experience as a research scientist. He has worked on projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (Banana Biofortification project), Farmacule Bio Industries,  ARC Disease Resistance, QUT BlueBox POC  project involving sugarcane transformation, Horticultural Innovations Australia Limited  funded  project on cisgenesis in potatoes and CRC-P project on TR4 resistance banana. During this period Dr. Deo has developed a number of novel approaches such as increasing plant biomass based on micropropagation and hydroponic techniques, direct regeneration of banana plants from male flowers and ECS. Over tens years he has acquired a thorough understanding of the transformation and regeneration processes for a suite of plant species including banana, taro, sugar cane, tobacco and potato. Currently, he is working on developing non-GM, gene-edited bananas using CRISPR/Cas9 system in banana protoplasts which are transfected with PEG and regenerated into plants with the edits.

Additional information

Dr Deo is a Research Scientist within the Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy. His expertise is in transformation of a range of crops including: Taro He developed somatic embryogenesis and transformation protocol for Taro (Colocasia esculenta var. esculenta) which is known to be recalcitrant. Nicotiana benthamiania He developed a cyclic micropropagation system using axillary branching for this plant which could generate kilograms of leaf tissue in vitro in a short time. He also established the hydroponics system for the stably transformed transgenic plants which could generate leaf tissues 20-fold higher when compared with tissue culture. Sugar cane He developed an efficient method for sugar cane transformation using Agrobacterium whereby transgenic plants could be obtained between 6-8 weeks directly from the explants without any callus phase. Potato He developed Agrobacterium mediated transformation and plant regeneration for the Russet Burbank potato which is notorious for being recalcitrant. Successfully generated marker-free potato plants using thin cell layer technique by the excising nptII gene using double recombinase which was induced by dexamethasone and nptII excised plants selected on 5-FC. Banana He initiated and established embryogenic cell suspensions (ECS) from immature male flowers and have done extensive transformations using Agrobacterium and microprojectile bombardment. He also developed an efficient protocol for obtaining banana plants directly from banana flowers but bypassing the callus stage. He has extensive experience in banana protoplast generation,  transfection and plant regeneration. Currently, he is actively involved in generating banana protoplasts from ECS and meristem, PEG-mediated transfection of protoplasts with CRISPR/Cas9 constructs for gene editing of protoplasts and regenerating non-GM gene-edited banana plants from protoplasts.

Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
QUT Vice-Chancellor's Performance Award for 2017 in recognition of a significant and superior contribution to the work of the university