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Dr. Nasar-um-Minallah
Assistant Professor
Plant Biotechnology

National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)
H-12 Campus, Islamabad
Tel : +92 9085 6151

Plant Cell Signalling

PhD (China)

I have completed my PhD with Prof. Fengming Song from Institute of Biotechnology of Zhejiang University situated in a beautiful city of China called Hangzhou in the year 2011. After completion of my PhD, I returned to Pakistan and joined Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB) of National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST). NUST is a beautiful place situated in the heart of Islamabad beside Margala Hills.
My research work is mainly related with Plant immunity against different stress factors. It included Plant-fungal, Plant-Bacterial and Plant Abiotic stress interactions including salt, drought and oxidative stress. The genes under study were Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases (MAPK), which are well known for their cross-kingdom conserved role in cell signaling against different stimuli. So, after a preliminary screening, we came up with two MAPKs in tomato and Arabidopsis, SlMPK4 and SlMPK6. Their functional analysis revealed different roles in plant defense mechanisms (Virk et al, 2013). My research work on a Raf-like triple Kinase in Arabidopsis against oxidative stress is awaited to be published. We discovered novel functions of Arabidopsis raf43 by adopting various functional genomics techniques.
Our research group at ASAB is mainly interested in Plant interaction with other stress factors especially Nanoparticle induced oxidative stress. One of our research projects has discovered Glutathione S Transferase (GST) and Superoxide dismutase (SOD) transcript induction against Titania and Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles. Currently, we are conducting a detailed analysis of GST and SOD family in Lettuce against different commercially available Nanoparticles.
We are also identifying novel Calcium ATPases in Wheat and our future plans are to study their role extensively against stress responses. This is a joint collaborative research project between Prof. Lorraine E. Williams’ lab in Southampton University and our lab in ASAB.
The details of our lab students along with their research interests is as follows;
Roohi Aslam
Hira Iftikhar
Saher Tufail
Nosheen Nayab
Abdul Mohaiman
Sadia Arshad
Sara Nazain
Lab Alumni
Saba Safdar: She came up with Reference genes for real time PCR based nanotoxicity studies in Wheat during her undergrad research project. Currently she is based at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
1.    Nasar Virk, Bo Liu, Huizhuan Zhang, Xiaohui Li, Yafen Zhang, Dayong Li and Fengming Song (2013) Tomato SlMPK4 is required for resistance against Botrytis cinerea and tolerance to drought stress. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 35: 1211-1221

2.    Cheng X, Virk N, Chen W, Ji S, Ji S, et al. (2013) CpG Usage in RNA Viruses: Data and Hypotheses. PLoS ONE 8(9): e74109. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074109

3.   B.M. Vindhya S. Basnayake , Dayong Li, Huijuan Zhang, Guojun Li, Nasar Virk, Fengming Song (2011) Arabidopsis DAL1 and DAL2, two RING finger proteins homologous to Drosophila DIAP1, are involved in regulation of programmed cell death. Plant Cell Reports 30: 37-48

4.    Guojun Li, Virk Nasar, Yuxia Yang, Keke Mao, Bo Liu, Lijun Sun, Dayong Li, Fengming Song (2010) Arabidopsis poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase 1 is required for drought, osmotic and oxidative stress responses. Plant Science, 180: 283-291

5.    Xiao'e Wang, B. M. Vindhya S. Basnayake, Huijuan Zhang, Guojun Li, Wei Li, Nasar Virk, Tesfaye Mengiste, Fengming Song (2009) The Arabidopsis ATAF1, a NAC Transcription Factor, Is a Negative Regulator of Defense Responses Against Necrotrophic Fungal and Bacterial Pathogens. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, 22: 1227-1238

6.    Xiaofei Cheng, Nasar Virk, Xiaoxia Wu, Wei Chen and Xiaoyun Wu (2013). More Intelligent Than We Thought: Both Initiative and Passive Adaptations in Bunyaviruses to Their Hosts. Manuscript under preparation.

7.    Nasar Virk and Fengming Song (2013) Functional analysis of an Arabidopsis Raf-like Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Kinase Kinase raf43 in plant defense. Manuscript under preparation

8.    Saba Safdar, Nasar Virk* (2013) Analysis of Reference Genes for Quantitative PCR against Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide Nanotoxicity in Wheat. Manuscript under preparation.
* corresponding author

Conferences/Posters Published
1.    2013 International Workshop on Food Safety Assesment Technology and Food Safety Quility Control. June,23-July,12 2013. Guangzhou,P.R.China

2.    Functional characterization of different Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase genes in biotic and abiotic stress responses in tomato and Arabidopsis
Nasar Virk, Fengming Song. Poster presented in “From Plant Biology to Crop Biotechnology” at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Asia Conferences, Oct. 24-29. 2010, Suzhou, China.

3.    Tomato MAPK gene SlMPK6 positively regulates defense responses against Botrytis cinerea
Nasar Virk, Fengming Song. 7th Hangzhou International Symposium on Plant Pathology and Biotechnology, Oct. 22-25, 2009, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

4.    An Arabidopsis Group C Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase Kinase Kinase MEKK Plays a Distinct Role Against Biotic and Abiotic Stresses
Nasar Virk, Fengming Song. Abstract published in Kyiv International Life Sciences Students' Conference, Ukraine, 2009.

5.    Participant in Frontiers of Plant Pathology, Aug, 14-19. 2010, Xiamen, China and Conference on Advances in Plant Pathology in China, Oct 26-29. 2009, Zhengzhou, China.
Since Plant Biotechnology Department was initiated in 2012 at ASAB, therefore, the need to introduce courses that could improve students’ theoretical as well as experimental skills that are being practiced worldwide in Plant Sciences was necessary. I came up with two postgraduate core courses named ‘Plant Functional Genomics’ and ‘Plant Immunology’ for MS and PhD students and one undergraduate core course ‘Plant Physiology’ for BS Applied Biosciences students. I offer these courses according to the following schedule:

Plant Physiology: Fall Semester

Plant Functional Genomics: Fall Semester

Plant Immunology: Spring Semester

Seminar: Spring Semester
I have worked for two years with Allied Floriculture (Pvt) Limited. It’s a subsidiary of Allied Engineering and Services Limited for the development of a large scale flower production facility. During my stay at Allied, we have introduced production of various exotic cut flowers including Lilium, Gladiolous, Iris, Tulip and marketed them successfully in Islamabad and Lahore Flower markets. It was a wonderful experience!