Sruthi Narayanan

Associate Professor of Crop Ecophysiology
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 212 Biosystems Research Complex
Phone: 864-656-2419


 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 8010 Crop Physiology and Nutrition (Spring, odd years)
PES 3500 Practicum (Fall, every year)
PES 4960 (Section 002) Creative Inquiry in Crop Science (Spring, every year)


Dr. Sruthi Narayanan joined the department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University with a 50% research and 50% teaching appointment in the Fall of 2015. Dr. Narayanan is at 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 involved in developing and teaching courses in Plant and Environmental Sciences for undergraduate and graduate students. She is also actively advising and mentoring graduate students.


Kansas State University Distinguished Young Alumni Award, 2022
Crop Science Society of America Early Career Award, 2021
Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO) Outstanding Early Career Scientist award, 2021
Clemson University Provost Outstanding Junior Teaching Award, 2021
College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences (CAFLS) Teaching Award for Excellence (<6 Years' Experience), 2021

 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 focuses 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.

 Lab Members


1. Om Prakash Ghimire (PhD) (
2. Jyoti Prasad Kakati (PhD) (
3. Malarvizhi Sathasivam (PhD) (
4. Luvina Madrid (PhD) (
5. Walker Spivey (Masters) (
6. Shelby Hammond (Masters) (

1. Ricardo St Aime (Ph.D.)
2. Enoch Noh (Masters)
3. Zolian Zoong Lwe (Masters)
4. Ricardo St Aime (Masters)
5. Harrison Fried (Masters)


1. Ricardo St Aime


Publications in Peer-reviewed International Journals

24. St Aime R., Bridges W.C., Jr., Narayanan S.* 2023. Single- and multi-species cover crops can reduce weed presence and improve soil health without depleting soil water in the Southeastern clayey soils. Agronomy Journal. 00:1-19.

23. Kakati J.P., Fallen B., Bridges W.C., Jr., Narayanan S.* 2022. Characterization of a soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) population for germination and seedling root traits under water stress. Agronomy. 12: 1944.

22. Noh E., Fallen B., Payero J., Narayanan S.* 2022. Parsimonious root systems and better root distribution can improve biomass production and yield of soybean. PLOS ONE 17(6): e0270109.

21. Kakati J.P., Zoon Lwe Z., Narayanan S. 2022. Heat stress during the early flowering stage did not affect seed fatty acid contents in conventional oleic peanut varieties. Peanut Science 49(1).

20. St Aime R., Noh E., Bridges W.C., Jr., Narayanan S.* 2022. A comparison of drill and broadcast planting methods for biomass production of two legume cover crops. Agronomy. 12:79.

19. Rustgi S., Kakati J.P., Jones Z.T., Zoong Lwe Z., Narayanan S. 2021. Heat tolerance as a function of membrane lipid remodeling in the major US oilseed crops (soybean and peanut). Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology 30:652-667. Invited Review.

18. Zoong Lwe Z., Sah S., Persaud L., Li J., Gao W., Reddy K.R.*, Narayanan S.*. 2021. Alterations in the leaf lipidome of Brassica carinata under high temperature stress. BMC Plant Biology 21:404.

17. St Aime R., Rhodes G., Jones M., Campbell B.T., Narayanan S*. 2021. Evaluation of root traits and water use efficiency of different cotton genotypes in the presence or absence of a soil-hardpan. The Crop Journal 9:945-953.

16. Zoong Lwe, Z.S., Welti R., Naveed S., Rustgi S., Anco, D., and Narayanan, S. 2020. Heat stress elicits remodeling in the anther lipidome of peanut. Scientific Reports. 10: 22163.

15. Djanaguiraman M., Narayanan S., Erdayani E., Prasad P.V.V. 2020. Effects of high temperature stress during anthesis and grain filling periods on photosynthesis, lipids and grain yield in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). BMC Plant Biology. 20:268.

14. Narayanan, S. Zoong Lwe Z.S., Gandhi N., Welti R., Fallen B., Smith J.R., and Rustgi S. 2020. Comparative lipidomic analysis reveals heat stress responses of two soybean genotypes differing in temperature sensitivity. Plants 9(4): 457.

13. St Aime R., G. Zehnder, C. Talley, and S. Narayanan. 2020. Differences in biomass production and water use efficiency among seven different cover crops in the wet winter seasons of 2016/17 and 2018 in South Carolina. Agronomy. 10(4): 463.

12. Narayanan, S. and B. Fallen. 2019. Evaluation of soybean plant introductions for traits that can improve emergence under varied soil moisture levels. Agronomy. 9:118.

11. Fried, H., S. Narayanan, and B. Fallen. 2019. Evaluation of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] genotypes for yield, water use efficiency, and root traits. PLoS ONE. 13(7): e0200463.

10. Fried, H., S. Narayanan, and B. Fallen. 2018. Characterization of a soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) germplasm collection for root traits. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0200463.

9. Narayanan, S., P.V.V. Prasad, and R. Welti. 2018. Alterations in wheat pollen lipidome during high day and night temperature stress. Plant, Cell and Environment 41:1749–1761.

8. Narayanan, S. 2018. Effects of high temperature stress and traits associated with tolerance in wheat. Open Access Journal of Science 2:177-186. Invited Review.

7. 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.

6. 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.

5. 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.

4. 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.

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

2. 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.

1. 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.

Published Refereed Book Chapters

1. 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.

2. Narayanan, S. 2020. Membrane fluidity and compositional changes in response to high temperature stress in wheat. In: Physiological, molecular, and genetic perspectives of wheat improvement. Mohan A. and Wani S.H. Eds. Springer-Nature. In Press.

Non-peer reviewed publications

2. 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.

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


My research program at a glance
Google Scholar Citations