Profile: Dr. A.K. Saxena (Director)

Dr. A.K. Saxena did his Graduation and Post-graduation from Delhi University in Botany and Ph.D. in Microbiology from IARI, New Delhi. He was awarded the Gold medal for the Academic performance in Ph.D. He joined Agricultural Research Services in 1989 and since then he worked in various capacities at IARI. He also served at National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms, Mau for four years.

Dr. Saxena contributed immensely in the area of plant-microbe interactions and molecular diversity of bacteria. He developed bacterial inoculants, including novel biofilmed formulations, Zn and K solubilizers and NPK providing formulations for integrated pest and nutrient management of various crops. He identified chickpea - Rhizobium combinations for saline soils and also developed PGPR formulations for enhancing the yield of mungbean and arhar. He developed simple diagnostic approach for identification of Bacillus sp. and also species-specific primers and probes for identification of Macrophomina phaseolina and Fusarium udum. First attempt in the country was made to sequence the complete genome of Mesorhizobium ciceri Ca 181, and seven other novel bacteria isolated from extreme habitats were sequenced. He documented and characterized bacterial diversity of hot springs, salt lakes, cold deserts and acidic soils of India at molecular level, leading to development of germplasm collection and database of bacteria from extreme environments. Novel bacteria able to grow at high salt concentration, high and low pH, high and low temperatures were identified. He has deposited more than 1900 gene sequences to NCBI GenBank. He has successfully transferred the technologies developed at the Division of Microbiology to entrepreneurs throughout the country, leading to increased revenue generation and coverage of land under microbial inoculants.
 
Dr. Saxena carried out 20 different projects funded by various agencies like DBT, DST, World Bank and ICAR. He is a member of many professional societies. He has to his credit more than 20 book chapters and 120 Research publications both in National and International Journals. For his contributions to teaching he was awarded the Best Teacher award of IARI. He was awarded FAO fellowship twice for post doctoral work at The Netherlands and Israel and World Bank fellowship for visit to Canada. Till date he has guided 8 Ph.D. and 11 M.Sc students and at present guiding three Ph.D. students. He was elected as fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Indian Academy of Microbiological Sciences and is a recipient of XIV Shri Hari Krishna Shastri Memorial award. Distinguished Scientist award of Asian PGPR Society and Prof G. Rangaswami award of AMI . He worked as Head, Division of Microbiology IARI from 2009 -2015.