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Dr. Mautusi Mitra

photoAssistant Professor
Plant Molecular Biology

Click here to visit my Research Laboratory!


PhD in Plant Biology from Louisiana State University
MS in Botany from University of Calcutta, India
BS in Botany from University of Calcutta, India


Research Interests

I am interested in studying molecular aspects of photosynthesis in the model unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This microalga is easy to culture in the laboratory, can grow both photosynthetically and heterotrophically (can use acetate as a carbon source), is amenable to both nuclear and chloroplast transformation and its genome has been sequenced. All of these traits make it an ideal, simple and elegant system to study photosynthesis. My specific research interests are as follows:-

1. Chlamydomonas has two different pathways to synthesize chlorophyll in light and dark, unlike higher flowering plants. The light independent pathway operates both under light and dark conditions while the light dependent pathway works strictly under light.  While the light dependent chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway is well elucidated, the light independent pathway is not. To date, ten nuclear genes and three chloroplast genes are known to be involved in this light independent pathway. I am interested in identifying novel genes involved in the regulation of this light independent chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway.

2. I am also interested in studying how algal cells are able to sense specific changes in intensity of irradiance and translate such information to the biosynthetic machinery in the nucleus and chloroplast to enable acclimation to the specific irradiance stress (acclimation low light and high light conditions) in the model experimental green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The key goal of this research would be to identify and characterize novel genes, proteins and cellular networks involved in irradiance acclimation.


Courses Taught

BIOL  4985  Cell and Molecular Biology

Selected Publications

1. Mitra M, Lato S, Ynalvez R and Moroney JV Identification of a new chloroplast carbonic anhydrase in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.  Plant Physiology, May 2004, Vol. 135(1), pp. 173-182.
2. Mitra M, Mason C, Lato SM, Ynalvez, RA, Xiao Y and Moroney JV The three carbonic anhydrase families of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Canadian Journal of Botany, July 2005, Vol. 83(7), pp. 780-795.
3. Bartlett SG, Mitra M and JV Moroney CO2 concentrating mechanisms. (A chapter in the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration series titled "The structure and function of plastids"; March, 2006; pp 253-271; edited by Wise RR and Hoober JK Springer).
4.Ynalvez RA, Cunnusamy K, Xiao Y, Mitra M, Moroney JV Identification, cloning and characterization of two closely related beta-carbonic anhydrases in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii FASEB JOURNAL 20 (4): A476-A477 Part 1, MAR 6 2006.
5. Tetali S, Mitra M and Melis A Development of the light-harvesting chlorophyll antenna in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is regulated by the novel TLA1 gene, Planta, March 2007, 225: 813-829.
6a. Mitra M and Melis A Optical properties of microalgae for enhanced biofuels production, Optics Express, December 2008; vol. 16, Issue 26, pp. 21807-21820; doi:10.1364/OE.16.021807.
6b. The above article was also selected out of all the articles published  every month in different journals published by Optical Society of America, for publication in “The virtual Journal for BioMedical optics” published by Optical Society of America.
7. Mitra M and Melis Genetic Analysis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii: Characterization of RDP1, a novel gene whose 3’ UTR overlaps the 5’ UTR of TLA1 (written, being edited by supervisor).
 8. Mitra M, Kirst H and Melis A Effects of over-expression and RNAi-mediated under-expression of the TLA1 gene on the chlorophyll antenna size in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. (Currently, writing the manuscript).
9. Mitra M and Melis A   Elucidation of the identity of a 28kDa protein band detected strongly by the TLA1 primary antibody (Writing the manuscript).