Keerti Rathore Receives 2011 Cotton Genetics Research Award

ORLANDO, Fla.  – Dr. Keerti Rathore,  a Texas AgriLife Research scientist, is the recipient of the 2011 Cotton Genetics Research Award.

The announcement was made during the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conference of the National Cotton Council recently in Orlando, Fla.

Rathore, who is also an associate professor in the department of soil and crops sciences at Texas A&M University,  received a plaque and a monetary award.

He was cited for his work on the reduction of gossypol in cottonseed. Gossypol makes the otherwise protein-rich seed unfit for human and monogastric animal consumption.

Dr. Keerti Rathore, Texas AgriLife Research scientist

Dr. Keerti Rathore, Texas AgriLife Research scientist, examines cotton growing in a field near College Station. Rathore is breeding cotton plants that have almost no gossypol in the seed which would make them edible for humans and mono-gastric animals. (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips)

According to Dr. Don Jones, director Agricultural Research for Cotton Inc., Rathore’s ultimate goal is to create cotton plants that produce seeds that contain gossypol at levels below what is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration while maintaining normal levels of gossypol and related chemicals in the foliage, floral parts, boll rind, and the roots. Gossypol helps cotton plants defend against insects and pathogens.

Dr. Wayne Smith, Texas A&M soil and crop sciences associate department head, applauded Rathore’s honor.

“Keerti has lines that show 95 percent reduction in seed gossypol that makes these seed – an excellent source of oil and protein – edible by humans,” Smith said. “This effort could lead to a new, high-quality food source for people around the world.”

Rathore earned his bachelor’s degree in animal and plant sciences from Rajasthan University, his master’s degree in plant biochemistry from Gujarat University, both in India. He earned his doctorate in plant physiology from Imperial College, University of London. Before joining AgriLife Research and Texas A&M in 2003, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate and a research scientist at Purdue University for 10 years.

He also has served as director of Texas A&M’s Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotechnology Laboratory for Crop Transformation since 1997.  Rathore’s research has been reported in numerous peer reviewed  science journals, and he has been granted six U.S. patents.

U.S. commercial cotton breeders have presented the Cotton Genetics Research Award for more than 40 years to a scientist for outstanding basic research in cotton genetics. The Joint Cotton Breeding Committee, comprised of representatives from state experiment stations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, private breeders and the National Cotton Council, establishes award criteria.

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