Dr. Rabia Amir
National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)
H-12 Sector Islamabad, Pakistan
Plant Genetics / Biotechnology
PhD (Plant Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, UK)
Rabia Amir is serving as an Assistant Professor at Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB),
National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) since, April 2014. She received her B.Sc (Hons)and M.Sc (Hons)
degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Pir Mehr Ali Shah, Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.
She was awarded a Gold medal and a Silver Medal in her B.SC (Hons)and M.SC (Hons) respectively.She was also awarded a Gold medal
by ABN AMRO Bank on the basis of highest percentage in the entire University. Soon after her M.Sc (Hons) degree she was
offered a foreign research intership in University of Leicester, UK. During her research internship, she was awarded a prestigious
overseas scholarship by Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan to commence her PhD studies at one of the finest and
top ranked institute of the world, University of Edinburgh (UK). During her degree period, she identifid the key trancriptional
regulators of Paclitaxel biosyntesis in Taxus cuspidata.The research outcome of plant stem cell isolation and culture technology and the
potentials of bioprocess innovation have been published by a world renowned scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. In December 2013, she
acquired her PhD degree from University of Edinburgh in the field of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology and returned to Pakistan to serve the nation.
Plants produce a very broad array of metabolites, which are not essential for growth of plant cells, but which are used by plants to provide
protection against stress and pathogens, to attract pollinators and dispersal agents and as signals for development. These are often referred
to as 'secondary metabolites' but are known more generally as plant 'natural products'. The plant secondary metabolites represent a vital field
of study. Plants often accumulate their natural products to relatively low levels, so there is a lot of interest in breeding or engineering plants
that produce higher levels. It has been shown that the most effective way to increase the accumulation of secondary metabolites is to increase the
activity of genes that regulate the activity of the biosynthetic pathways that make different natural products. Regulatory genes of this type encode
proteins called transcription factors. The biggest bottleneck in using this strategy to develop plants that accumulate significantly higher levels of
important natural products is that not many transcription factors regulating secondary metabolism have yet been identified at the molecular level.
It is likely that several of the selected genes encode transcription factors that have the same regulatory activity. These genes will be identified
because increasing their activity will result in exactly the same changes in metabolites in plants.
1. Lee, E. K., Jin, Y. W., Park, J. H., Yoo, Y. M., Hong, S. M., Amir, R., Yan, Z., Kwon, E., Elfick, A., Tomlinson, S., Halbritter, F., Waibel,
T., Yun, B. W., and Loake, G. J. (2010). Cultured cambial meristematic cells as a source of plant natural products. Nature Biotechnology 28, 1213-1217.
2. Yun, B. W., Yan, Z., Amir, R., Hong, S., Jin, Y. W., Lee, E. K., and Loake, G. J. (2012). Plant natural products: history, limitations and the potential
of cambial meristematic cells. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews 28, 47-60.
3. Amir, R., Minhas, N. M., Kazi, A. G., Farrakh, S., Ali, A., Bux, H., and Kazi, M. (2013). Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of wheat landraces
of Pakistan. Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture 26, doi: 10.9755/ejfa. v9726i9752. 17008.
Unhwa Corporation’s research institute, Unhwa Institute of Science and Technology (UHIST, Director Eun-Kyong Lee) has a joint research collaboration with
a world renowned biotechnology research institute, University of Edinburgh Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences (Professor Gary Loake’s team). In the project,
We succeeded in the world’s first isolation of plant stem cell (meristematic stem cell) and the company has secured the technology to culture this cell to an
industrial scale. This means higher value-added biomaterial development and mass production of diverse plant derived useful compounds are possible for the
application in numerous industries.
Current area of research has a greater appliction in the food and Pharmaceutical industry