Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar

Savithramma Dinesh Kumar

Position Title
Professor and Department Chair

  • Plant Biology
  • Genome Center
116 Briggs Hall

Research Interests

Host-microbe interactions

NLRs and PRRs function in innate immune signaling

Inter-organellar communications

Programmed cell death (PCD)


Virus-host interactions

Gene editing

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Plant Biology

Specialities / Focus

  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Genomics
  • Environmental and Integrative Biology


  • BIS 104 Cell Biology
  • PLP 210 Biochemistry and Mol Biology of Plant-Microbe interactions , Winter - Guest Lecture


  • Dinesh-Kumar
    • Ugrappa Nagalakshmi - Research Scientist
    • Yuanyuan Li - Post-doc
    • Wanwan Liang - Post-doc
    • Nathan Meier - PBGG Graduate Student
    • Nyd Sertsuvalkul - PBGG Graduate Student
    • April DeMell - PBGG Graduate Student
    • Jau-Yi Liu - Junior Specialist
    • Alvin Tong - Undergraduate Student
    • Nathan Barycki - Undergraduate Student

Honors and Awards

  • 2019 - Noel T. Keen Award for Research Excellence in Molecular Plant Pathology, American Phytopathological Society -
  • 2018 - American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
  • 2015-2016 - Faculty Research Award, College of Biological Sciences, UC Davis
  • 2010-2011 - Semifinalist, HHMI-GBMF Investigator Competition
  • 2002-2003 - Junior Faculty Fellowship
  • 2000 - Hellman Family Fellowship
  • 1994-1998 - Life Science Research Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship

    Professional Societies

    • American Society of Plant Biology
    • IS-MPMI
    • AAAS
    • American Phytopathological Society


    • 1994 Ph D Mol Cellular Dev Biol Iowa State University


    Lal, N. K., Thanasuwat, B., Huang, P. J., Cavanaugh, K. A., Carter, A., Michelmore, R. W., and Dinesh-Kumar, S. P. (2020) Phytopathogen effectors use multiple mechanisms to manipulate plant autophagy. Cell Host & Microbe. 28:558-571.

    Ellison, E. E., Nagalakshmi, U., Gamo, M. E., Huang, P., Dinesh-Kumar, S. P., and Voytas, D. (2020) Multiplexed heritable gene editing using RNA viruses and mobile single guide RNAs. Nature Plants 6:620-624.

    *Lee, D., *Lal, N. K., (*contributed equally) Lin, Z. D., Ma, S., Liu, J., Castro, B., Dinesh-Kumar, S. P., and Coaker, G. (2020) Regulation of reactive oxygen species during plant immunity through phosphorylation and ubiquitination of RBOHD. Nature Communications 11:1838.

    Zhang, Y., Song, G., Lal, N. K., Nagalakshmi, U., Li, Y., Zhen, W., Huang, P., Branon, T. C., Ting, A. Y., Walley, J. W., Dinesh-Kumar, S. P. (2019) TurboID-based proximity labeling reveals that UBR7 is a regulator of N NLR immune receptor-mediated immunity. Nature Communications 10(1):3252.

    Li, J., Huang, H., Zhu, M., Huang, S., Zhang, W., Dinesh-Kumar, S.P. and Tao, X. (2019) A plant immune receptor adopts a two-step recognition mechanism to enhance its perception of viral pathogen effector. Molecular Plant 12:248-262.

    Lal, N.K., *Nagalakshmi, U., *Hurlburt, N.K., (*contributed equally) Flores, R., Bak, A., Sone, P., Ma, X., Song, G., Walley, J., Shan, L., He, P., Casteel, C., Fisher, A.J., and Dinesh-Kumar, S.P. (2018) The receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase BIK1 localizes to the nucleus and regulates defense hormone expression during plant innate immunity. Cell Host & Microbe 23:485-497.

    Kumar, A.S., Park, E., Nedo, A., Alqarni, A., Ren, L., Hoban, K., Modla, S., McDonald, J.H., Kambhamettu, C., Dinesh-Kumar, S.P. and Caplan, J.L. (2018) Stromule extension along microtubules coordinated with actin-mediated anchoring guides perinuclear chloroplast movement during innate immunity. eLife 7:e23625 doi: 10.7554/eLife.23625.

    Park, E., Lee, H-Y., Woo, J., Choi, D., and Dinesh-Kumar, S.P. (2017) Spatiotemporal monitoring of Pseudomonas effectors via type III secretion using split fluorescent protein fragments. Plant Cell 29:1571-1584.

    Seo, E., Woo, J., Park, E., Bertolani, S., Siegel, J., Choi, D., and Dinesh-Kumar, S.P. (2016) Comparative analyses of ubiquitin-like ATG8 and cysteine protease ATG4 autophagy genes in the plant lineage and cross-kingdom processing of ATG8 by ATG4. Autophagy 12:2054-2068.

    Caplan, J., Kumar, AS., Park, E., Padmanabhan, M., Hoban, K., Modla, S., Czymmek, K., and Dinesh-Kumar, SP. (2015). Chloroplast stromules function during innate immunity. Dev Cell 34:45-57. (Cover Article).

    Ali, Z., Abul-Faraj, A., Li, L., Ghosh, N., Piatek, M., Mahjoub, A., Aouida, M., Piatek, A., Baltes, N., Voytas, D., Dinesh-Kumar, S.P., Mahfouz, M. (2015) Efficient virus-mediated genome editing in plants using the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Mol Plant S1674-2052(15)00162-8.

    Woo J, Park E, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2014) Differential processing of Arabidopsis ubiquitin-like Atg8 autophagy proteins by Atg4 cysteine proteases. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111:863-868.

    Padmanabhan M, Ma S, Burch-Smith T, Czymmek K, Huijser P, and Dinesh-Kumar SP (2013) Novel Positive Regulatory Role for the SPL6 Transcription Factor in the N TIR-NB-LRR Receptor-Mediated Plant Innate Immunity. PLoS Pathogens 9(3):e1003235.

    Ma S, Shah S, Bohnert HJ, Snyder M, Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2013) Incorporating motif analysis into gene co-expression networks reveals novel modular expression pattern and new signaling pathways. PLoS Genetics 9(10): e1003840.

    Hayward, AP and Dinesh-Kumar, SP (2011) What can Plant Autophagy do for an Innate Immune Response? Annu Rev Phytopathol. 49:557-576.

    Zhu X, Caplan JC, Mamillapalli P, Czymmek K, and Dinesh-Kumar SP (2010) Function of endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase in innate immunity mediated programmed cell death. EMBO J 29, 1007-1018.

    *Caplan JC, *Zhu X, (contributed equally), Mamillapalli P, Marathe R, Anandalakshmi R, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2009) Induced ER-chaperones regulate a receptor-like kinase to mediate anti-viral innate immune response in plants. Cell Host Microbe 6, 457-469.

    Popescu SC, Popescu GV, Bachan S, Zhang Z, Gerstein M, Snyder M, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2009) MAPK target networks in Arabidopsis thaliana revealed using functional protein microarrays. Genes Dev 23:80-92.

    Caplan JC, Mamillapalli P, Burch-Smith TM, Czymmek K, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2008) Chloroplastic protein NRIP1 mediates innate immune receptor recognition of a viral effector. Cell 132:449-462.

    Patel S, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2008) Arabidopsis ATG6 is required to limit the pathogen-associated cell death response. Autophagy 4:20-27.

    Burch-Smith TM, Schiff M, Caplan J, Tsao J, Czymmek K, and Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2007) A novel role for the TIR domain in association with pathogen-derived elicitors. PLoS Biol 5:e68:501-514.

    Liu Y, Schiff M, Czymmek K, Talloczy Z, Levine B, Dinesh-Kumar SP. (2005) Autophagy regulates programmed cell death during the plant innate immune response. Cell 121:567-577.

    Membership and Service
    • 1/2021-present - Editorial Board, Stress Biology
    • 9/2019-present - Editorial Board, Plant Communications
    • 1/2019-present - Senior Editor, Phytopathology Research
    • 2015-present - Chair, UC Davis Proteomics Core Advisory Committee
    • 2/2014-present - Associate Editor - PLoS Pathogens
    • 9/2013-present - Editorial Board – Molecular & Cellular Proteomics
    • 8/2012-present - Editorial Board - PeerJ
    • 2017-present - Member of Faculty Advisory Committee, UC Davis Controlled Environment Facility