Kokila Wickramanayake

Kokila Wickramanayake


My plant biotech journey began at the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka. In my undergraduate research, I Investigated soil microbial properties in potential management zones of paddy fields in the Intermediate Zone of Sri Lanka. Completing BSc degree with a specialization in Biotechnology provided me with an opportunity to pursue an MSc at Justus Liebig University (JLU) in Germany. I tried to optimize the growth of Bacillus subtilis in the presence of the SDHI-carboxamide fungicides nicobifen and fluxapyroxad for my MSc. thesis project. My willingness to work in different research teams motivated me to complete two internships: Trait assessment in disease-resistant hybrid wheat in KWS and a recombinant Uricase enzyme production project at the Institute of Bioprocess Engineering & Pharmaceutical Technology at THM. Before joining this PhD program, I was working as a research assistant in the project called Phytochemical characterization and in-vitro conservation of medicinal Qatari flora at Qatar University. I have a long-standing interest in phytopathology with a view to contributing to the advancement of the field.

PhD title: A role for plastid identity in plant immunity

According to the literature, chloroplast acts as a central hub in orchestrating plant immune responses. A wealth of data already exists supporting the targeting of specific effectors to the chloroplast. In addition, the clumping of chloroplasts and differential production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in sub-populations of chloroplasts characterising Arabidopsis response to bacterial pathogens was observed. Furthermore, depolymerisation of the actin cytoskeleton and a decrease in size and fluorescence of chloroplasts were seen in infected rice leaves with the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Accordingly, previous observations to date were allowed to propose a hypothesis that there is considerable physiological heterogeneity in the response of chloroplasts to pathogen infection. This project will test the universality of these responses and relate them to plastid development. The knowledge derived will offers opportunities not only to develop more pathogen tolerant crops but even extend to identifying new herbicide targets, a field that has stagnated for 30 or more years


    Alsafran, M., Wickramanayake, K., Usman, K. and Ahmed T. (2022) ‘Efficient shoot regeneration of medicinal plant Haplophyllum tuberculatum by direct and indirect organogenesis and genetic fidelity assessment using Inter Simple Sequence Repeats markers’, Frontiers in Plant Science, 13. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2022.995825.


  • Poster: Wickramanayake, K.K., Ahmed, T.A.-F. and Al safran, M.H.S.A. (2021) ‘Effect of Plant Growth Regulators on Callus Induction from Leaf and Petiole explants of Hummeid (Rumex Vesicarius)’. Available at: https://doi.org/10.29117/quarfe.2021.0059.