Download Adobe Reader

Sruthi Narayanan

Assistant Professor
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 212 Biosystems Research Complex
Phone: 864-656-2419
Vita: Download CV


 Educational Background

Ph.D. Agronomy
Kansas State University 2015

M.S. Agronomy
Kansas State University 2011

B.S. Agriculture
Kerala Agriculture University 2007

 Courses Taught

PES 4210/6210 Principles of Field Crop Production (Fall, odd years)
PES 4220/6220 Major World Crops (Spring, even years)
PES 3350 Agricultural Biotechnology (Fall, even years)
PES 3351 Agricultural Biotechnology Lab ((Fall, even years)
PES 8010 Crop Physiology and Nutrition (Spring, odd years)

Graduate Students
Ricardo Saint-Aime (Masters, LASPAU Fulbright Scholar)
Harrison Fried (Masters)
Zolian Sang Zoong Lwe (Masters)


Dr. Sruthi Narayanan joined the department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University in the Fall of 2015. Dr. Narayanan is in the forefront of advancements in crop physiology with cutting edge research on abiotic stress tolerance. Her novel lipidomic approach to characterize plant heat tolerance at cellular level is widely published and acclaimed. She brings to the department an array of expertise ranging from production agronomy to highly sophisticated ‘omics’ techniques. Her research program focuses on understanding tolerance mechanisms of crop plants to abiotic stresses, with an emphasis on drought and heat stresses, at whole-field, whole-plant, cellular, and molecular levels. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture, and has been working on improving resource use efficiencies, maximizing crop yields, and minimizing environmental risk. Growing up in a farming family, she understands the promises and perils of agriculture, which is her motivation to study the interrelationship between climate change and food security, and ways to deal with that threat. Dr. Narayanan's efforts have won her recognition at national and international levels. Besides her research program, Dr. Narayanan is also involved in developing and teaching courses in Plant and Environmental Sciences for undergraduate and graduate programs. She is also actively advising and mentoring graduate students.

 Research Interests

Our crop-ecophysiological research program focuses on improving productivity of agronomic crops through economically viable and environmentally sustainable agronomic practices. Climate variability necessitates development of resilient, regionally adapted production systems and our group strives to achieve this by applying concepts from Physiology, Biochemistry, Lipidomics, and Genomics. Crop-ecophysiological responses from rhizosphere to global scale is studied using on-farm, greenhouse, growth chamber, laboratory and modeling experiments. Our group’s main focus is categorized under the following two themes.

i. Crop response and adaptation to climate change
Climate models predict continued warming and increased frequency, duration, and intensity of droughts across the southeast U.S. In South Carolina, 35 counties were declared as primary disaster areas due to drought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015. Our research focuses on understanding crop response and adaptation to changing environmental conditions (water and temperature) in order to develop climate resilient crop varieties. Research priorities include identification of physiological traits and mechanisms that are associated with drought and heat tolerance, developing high throughput screening tools/traits to select for tolerant genotypes, and screening germplasm collections to identify new sources of tolerance. This research is framed at the molecular and cellular levels to understand biochemical and genetic pathways associated with stress tolerance; at the whole plant level to determine how various biochemical and physiological processes integrate to form yield under stress conditions; and at the whole field level to understand how crop plants interact with the environment. We employ lipidomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and genomic tools as well as traditional physiology tools to investigate the research questions. We study physiological processes including gas exchange and stomatal regulation, antioxidant production, lipidome and proteome changes, carbohydrate metabolism, hormonal regulation, and pollen and ovule performance to identify tolerance mechanisms or traits associated with drought and heat tolerance.

ii. Improving field crop production through sustainable agronomic practices
Soils that are inherently low in fertility and organic matter content, and are highly prone to runoff are typical to South Carolina. Another characteristic of these soils is a hardpan that restricts root growth. More than 80% of row crops in South Carolina are produced in fields with soil compaction problems. The conventional tillage practices give little consideration to the potential runoff and erosion problems, reduce organic matter content of soils and increase the vulnerability of soils to drought stress. However, no-till field crop production is not suitable for this region because of problems with soil compaction. Our research focus on strategies to optimize conservation tillage practices and identification of genotypes with a root system architecture that is best suited for this region. Strategies for optimization of conservation tillage include crop diversification via cover crops and new crop introductions, crop sequencing, and cultivar selection. Cover crops are evaluated for their interaction with tillage, water use efficiency, ability to reduce weed pressure, and nitrogen fertilizer requirements, while, at the same time, maintaining overall system productivity and profitability. Bioenergy crops such as switchgrass, sorghum, or miscanthus are tested as part of crop introductions to existing cropping systems. Impact of conservation tillage practices on pests and beneficial organisms is also assessed. Crop varieties with root systems that can penetrate soil hardpan, which can increase lateral root growth after sensing the hardpan, or those with deeper root systems that can extract water from deep soil profiles might perform well in the hardpan forming, drought prone soils of South Carolina. Our research aims at identification of genotypes with a root system architecture that maximizes productivity in the hardpan forming soils.


Peer-reviewed publications

Narayanan, S., P.V.V. Prasad, and R. Welti. 2017. High day and night temperature stress results in lipid alterations in wheat pollen. Plant, Cell and Environment. Under review.

Narayanan, S., P.J. Tamura, M.R. Roth, P.V.V. Prasad, and R. Welti. 2016. Wheat leaf lipids during heat stress: I. High day and night temperatures result in major lipid alterations. Plant, Cell and Environment 39:787-803.

Narayanan, S., P.V.V. Prasad, and R. Welti. 2016. Wheat leaf lipids during heat stress: II. Lipids experiencing coordinated metabolism are detected by analysis of lipid co-occurrence. Plant, Cell and Environment 39:608-617.

Prasad P.V.V., J.M.G. Thomas, and S. Narayanan. 2016. Plants and environment: global warming effects. In: Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Sciences. 2nd edition (Eds. B. Thomas, B.G. Murray, and D.J. Murphy). Elsevier, London, U.K. pp 289-299.

Narayanan, S., P.V.V. Prasad, A.K. Fritz, D.L. Boyle, and B.S. Gill. 2014. Impact of high night-time and high daytime temperature stress on winter wheat. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 201:206-218.

Narayanan, S., A. Mohan, K.S. Gill, and P.V.V. Prasad. 2014. Variability of root traits in spring wheat germplasm. PLoS ONE 9(6): e100317.

Narayanan, S., and P.V.V. Prasad. 2014. Characterization of a spring wheat association mapping panel for root traits. Agronomy Journal 106:1593–1604.

Narayanan, S., R. Aiken, P.V.V. Prasad, Z. Xin, G. Paul, and J. Yu. 2014. A simple quantitative model to predict leaf area index in sorghum. Agronomy Journal 106:219-226.

Narayanan, S., R. Aiken, P.V.V. Prasad, Z. Xin, and J. Yu. 2013. Water and radiation use efficiencies in sorghum. Agronomy Journal 105:649-656.

Non-peer reviewed publications

Narayanan, S., R. Aiken, Z. Xin, P.V.V. Prasad, K. Kofoid, and J. Yu. 2011. Sorghum canopy architecture and crop water productivity. In: Field Research 2011, Report of Progress. Kansas State University.

Narayanan, S. 2008. Seed production in rice. Kerala Karshakan (Indian Journal) 54:32-34.


Google Scholar Citations