Abhaya M. Dandekar

Abhaya Dandekar

Position Title
Distinguished Professor-- Director, Plant Transformation Facility

  • Faculty
UC Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616


  • Postdoc., National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland; Molecular Biology, 1982
  • Ph.D., M.S., University of Baroda, India; Microbiology, 1979
  • M.Sc., M.S., University of Baroda, India; Microbiology, 1974
  • B.Sc., SMDRSD College, Pathankot India; Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, 1971

Research interests and expertise: 

Plant phenotypes epitomize the physiological and genetic basis of agriculturally significant problems. My laboratory is interested in dissecting plant phenotypes to describe the plant responses by defining the underlying molecular genetics, physiological and biochemical mechanisms that regulate the response. Our focus is on trees and on phenotypic traits that regulate productivity and quality of fruit and nuts. We categorize genes through the analysis of their encoded functional products, mRNA, small RNA, proteins and/or metabolites that contribute to the genetic basis of phenotypic traits. An outcome of this effort is the discovery of novel genes, regulatory pathways leading to the development of trait specific diagnostics and therapeutic strategies.

Current projects: 

  • Defining the host response to disease and pests leading to the development of disease and pest resistant walnut rootstocks. California Walnut Board; USDA-SCRI, CDFA SCRI block grants.
  • Defining the genes and metabolic pathways responsible for pellicle coloration in developing walnut tissues. California Walnut Board.
  • Defining host and pathogen response in grapevines to Xylella fastidiosa causative agent of Pierceís disease. Development and field-testing of resistant rootstocks that can transgraft protect grapevine scions from Pierceís disease infections. CDFA-PD Board.
  • Developing a sustainable management strategy to control walnut blight disease by defining the pathogen virulence responses and host disease susceptibility responses. California Walnut Board.
  • Developing genome-editing tools for the analysis of the walnut genome. California Walnut Board.
  • Enhancing plant manufactured production human therapeutic glycol-proteins with special emphasis on glycan modulation and the development of enhanced production systems. DTRA Phase II.

Current teaching: 

  • Principles of Plant Biotechnology; BIT 160 (winter quarter)
  • Introduction to Biotechnology; BIT 001 (spring quarter)

External activities that contribute to scholarship:

  • Chair, Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology (DEB)
  • Director, Ralph M. Parsons Plant Transformation Facility  
  • Advisor, Plant Biology Graduate Group
  • Advisor, Plant Biotechnology section of the Biotechnology Major
  • Editor, Japanese Society for Horticultural Science
  • Associate Editor, Tree Genetics and Genomes

Prizes, Awards, Honors

  • CAPES Visiting Professor, Ministry of Education, Brazil; 2017
  • Distinguished Professor, University of California, Davis; 2016
  • Award for Excellence in Research, Citrus Research Board, California; 2007
  • American Society for Horticultural Science, Cross Commodity Publication Award; 1998
  • John E. Fogarty International Fellowship; 1979-1982
  • Senior Research Fellowship, Indian Council of Agricultural Research; 1975-1978
  • Research Scholarship, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda; 1974-1975

Google Scholar



  • Molecular biology
  • Molecular genetics
  • Functional genomics
  • Microbiology
  • Biotechnology
  • Pathogen-plant interactions
  • Pest-plant interactions
  • Recombinant-DNA technologies
  • Genome editing
  • Transgenic plant technologies
  • Plant stress biology
  • Fruit biology
  • Plant-based pharmaceuticals