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Dr. Rabia Amir
Assistant Professor
Plant Biotechnology

National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)
H-12 Sector Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel : +92-51-9085-6127

Plant Biotechnology/Plant Cell Signaling and Plant Natural Products

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 & 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. After her M.Sc (Hons) degree, she was offered a foreign research internship 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 identified the key transcriptional regulators of Paclitaxel biosynthesis in Taxus cuspidata. The research outcome of plant stem cell isolation & 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 is now back in Pakistan to serve her country.
Dr. Rabia's Research topic is an emerging topic in Plant Biotech:
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 are 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. 

Research Group

Medical plant Research Laboraory
Dr. Muhammad Qasim Hayat (Principal Investigator​)
Dr. Rabia Amir (Principal Investigator)

Research Supervision of Students (Projects)

​PhD (on-going) ​Ms. Ghulam Kubra Identification and characterization of potential regulators of flavonoid biosynthesis pathway in Arachis hypogaea
PhD (on-going)
​Ms. Uzma ​Biosystematic Study of Himalayan Carex L. (Cyperaceae)
​PhD (on-going) ​Ms. Uzma Hanif ​Genetic Gain in Wheat for Abiotic Stress Tolerance
​MS (on-going) ​Ms.  Maryam Khan ​Influence of Sugar and Photoperiod on the Flavonoid Biosynthetic Pathway in Arachis hypogaea
​​MS (on-going) ​Ms. Tooba Iqbal ​Expression Profiling of Flavonoid Biosynthetic Pathway Genes under the effect of Drought and Salinity Stress
​MS (completed) ​Ms. Norina Noor ​Expression Profiling of Flavonoid Biosynthetic Pathway Genes in Arachis hypogaea under Drought Stress
​MS (completed) ​Ms. Irum Nauman ​Effect of Photoperiod on Flavonoid Biosynthesis Pathway Activity in Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) Varieties
​MS (completed) ​Ms. Saman Taufiq ​Unraveling the Effect of Sugar Treatment on Genes involved in Flavonoid Biosynthetic Pathway in Arachis hypogaea`
​MS (completed) ​Ms. Sidra Hussain ​Identification and Analysis of Flavonol synthase (FLS) in Arachis hypogaea
​MS (completed) ​Mr. Jan Muhammad ​Identification and Analysis of Lecucoanthocyanidin reductase (LAR) in Arachis hypogaea
​BS (completed) ​Ms. Marrium Khan ​Identification and analysis of potential antioxidant producing gene in Arachis hypogaea
​BS (completed) ​Ms. Isma Shafqat ​Identification and expression analysis of potential antimicrobial gene in Arachis hypogaea plant by phytohormone induction
​BS (completed) ​Ms. Maryam Abbas ​Expression analysis of STS gene responsive to defense-associated phytohormone in Arachis hypogaea
​BS (completed) ​Ms. Momina Hayat ​Expression analysis of a stilbene synthase gene AhSTS2 in Arachis hypogaea in response to hormonal treatment
​BS (completed) ​Ms. Lubna Tauhidi ​Study of stilbene synthesis pathway in Arachis hypogaea
​BS (completed) ​Ms.Rameeza Hassan ​Identification and analysis of stilbene synthesis pathway genes in Arachis hypogaea 

Research Grants

HEC, NRPU grant titled “Expression analysis of potential flavonoid biosynthetic pathway genes in cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea)”

HEC, SRGP grant titled “Unravelling the effect of physiological factors in transcription of genes involved in flavonoid biosynthetic pathway in Arachis Hypogaea”

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. 

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.

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.

Hayat, M., Abbas, M., Munir, F., Hayat, M. Q., Keyani, R. and Amir, R. (2017). Potentials of Flavonoids in pharmaceutics and nutraceutics. J Biomol Biochem November-2017;1(1):11-16

Khalid, M., Gul, A., Amir, R., Ali, M., Afzal, F., Quraishi, U. M. & Rasheed, A. (2018). QTL mapping for seedling morphology under drought stress in wheat cross synthetic (W7984)/Opata. Plant Genetic Resources, 1-8.

Khalid, M., Gul, A., Amir, R., Ali, M., Afzal, F., Qureshi, U.M., Rasheed, A. Opportunities and bottlenecks to manipulates beneficial alleles of adaptive traits in synthetic-derived wheats. (Submitted) 

Khalid, M., Gul, A., Amir, R., Ali, M., Afzal, F., Qureshi, U. M., Rasheed, A. Mutations in wheat cell wall invertase gene (TaCwi-B1) underpin drought tolerance in derived synthetic wheat. (Manuscript in preparation)
Howat S., Amir R. and Loake G. J. Expression of selected transcription factors promotes paclitaxel biosynthesis in Taxus cuspidate. (Manuscript in preparation)

Lodhi, S.S., John, P., Gul1, A., Jamil, M., Alipur, H., Imadi, S.R., Amir, R. and Kazi, A. B. Association between grain size, shape and thousand kernel weight in Pakistan landraces (Manuscript in Preparation)

Lodhi, S.S., Gul, A., John, P., Haq, N., Jamil, M., Amir, R. and Kazi, A. M. Assessment of HMW-GS composition and allelic variation in bread wheat landrances from Pakistan (Manuscript in Preparation)

Book chapters

Amir, R., Taufiq, S., Noor, N., Nauman, I., Munir, F., Keyani, R. and Tahir, A.T. Stress Signalling under metal and Metalloid toxicity. Springer Nature, Singapore (In-press)

Amir, R., Iqbal, T., Khan, M., Munir, F. and Keyani, R. Abiotic Stress Signalling in Plants as Affected by Phytoprotectants. Taylor & Francis/CRC Press (In-press)

Amir, R., Hayat, M., Nauman, I., Khan, M. and Munir, F. Plants adaptive mechanisms under Arsenic Pollution. Springer Japan (In-press)

Amir, R., Munir, F., Kubra, G., Iqbal, T. and Khan, M. Plant Signalling Molecules and Cadmium stress tolerance. Elsevier (In-press)

Amir, R., Hussain, S., Noor-ul-Ain, H.,  Hussain, A.,  and Yun, B-W. ROS Mediated Plant Defense against Abiotic Stress. Springer Nature (In-press)

Conference Proceedings

Eunjung K., Amir R., Yan Z., Elfick A., Loake G. J. (2011). Cambrial meristematic cells as a chassis for natural product synthesis. SB5.0 The fifth international meeting on synthetic biology. PA-170 (89).

Rabia A., Kwon E., Yan Z. and Loake G. J. (2012). Identification and characterization of key regulators of paclitaxel biosynthesis in Taxus cuspidata. UK PlantSci 2012 Conference, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

Rabia A., Kwon E., Yan Z. and Gary J. Loake. (2012). Identification and characterization of key regulators of paclitaxel biosynthesis in Taxus cuspidata SEB Annual Meeting 2012, Salzburg, Austria. C3.12(205).

Howat, S., Villarrea M. O., Amir R., Kwon E., Yan Z., Jin Y. W., Lee E. K., and Loake G. J. (2014). Cultured plant cambial meristematic cells as a chassis for the production of pharmaceuticals. New Biotechnology (ISSN: 1871-6784). Elsevier / 16th European Congress on Biotechnology. S14(31)

Amir, R., Iqbal, T., Khan, M. (2017). Oral presentation: Expression Profiling of Potential Flavonoid Biosynthetic Pathway Genes in Arachis hypogaea under Abiotic Stress. International conference on tackling climatic change through Plant Breeding (13-15 November, 2017)

Training/Workshops and Courses

1. Omics of Begomoviruses and its Impact on National Economy,  Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences (ASAB), NUST, Islamabad, March 25-27, 2015 (organizer).

2. ICGEB training course on “Basic Biotechnology Techniques”, ASAB, NUST, Islamabad, February 23-25, 2016 (resource person).


Awards / Grants and Scholarships

1. Awarded Gold Medal in B.Sc. (Hons.), 2006.
2. Awarded Gold Medal and cash prize in B.Sc. (Hons.) by ABN, AMRO bank on the basis of highest percentage in the entire university, 2006.
3. Awarded Silver Medal in M.Sc. (Hons.), 2008.
4. Awarded HEC scholarship named "Overseas scholarship scheme for MS/M.Phil. Leading to PhD in selected fields phase II", Batch-5.
5. A Patent is signed with the University of Edinburgh on the basis of results generated in PhD project. 
6. Acknowledged by Higher Education Commission and Newspapers and Blogs nationwide upon publication in Nature Biotechnology.
7. HEC approved supervisor.
8. Awarded HEC, NRPU Grant; 2015-2016, PKR 0.5M)
9. Awarded HEC, SRGP grant; 2016-2017, PKR 0.5M)

Plant Cell Signalling (MS/PhD)

Plant Breeding and Genetics (MS/PhD)

Techniques in Plant Molecular Biology (MS/PhD)

Principles of crop production (UG)

Served at Unhwa Corporation’s research institute, Unhwa Institute of Science and Technology (UHIST, Director Eun-Kyong Lee), which 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 application in the food and Pharmaceutical industry