Nishanth Tharayil

Professor of Plant Ecophysiology
Director, Multi-User Analytical Laboratory
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 120 Biosystems Research Complex
Phone: 864-656-4453


 Educational Background

Postdoctoral fellow
U.S. Department of Agriculture 2008

PhD. Plant & Soil Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst 2007

M.Sc. Agronomy
G.B.P.U.A. & T. Pantnagar, India 2003

 Courses Taught

PLPA 8090 - Analytical Techniques (Spring)
BOT 8240 - Plant Growth Regulators
CSENV 4090/6090 - Biology of Invasive Plants (Fall)


LAB GROUP (2021)
Khang Huynh (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Jisun Lee (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Mengxue Xia (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Ziling Zhang (Postdoctoral Fellow, visiting)
Elizabeth Leonard (Research Associate)
Nimisha Edayilam (Graduate student)
Bhupinder Jatana (Graduate student)
Pawan Sandhu (Graduate student)

 Research Interests

We are broadly interested in the physiological ecology of plants. Using weedy, and ruderal plants as models, our BASIC research efforts are devoted to gain a mechanistic understanding of the role of secondary metabolites, especially the dynamics of phenylpropanoids, in shaping plant responses and resilience to various biotic/abiotic stressors. Along with the traditional quantitative approaches, we explore the changes in both composition and spatial organization of metabolites in tissues that contribute to stress tolerance and adaptation in plants.

Our research team further utilizes the knowledge gained from the above basic research to design strategies to enhance the quality and sustainability of agricultural production practices and ecosystem services under global changes. The APPLIED aspects of our basic research include managing ecological anomalies such as invasion of weedy plants, predicting the cellular physiology that facilitates the development of herbicide resistance in agricultural weeds, improving nutritive quality of food crops through the precise management of moderate stress, and enhancing nitrogen and phosphorous use efficiencies in crops.

 Extension and Outreach

Through the Multi-User Analytical Laboratory (MUAL), which is a core facility within the College of Agricultural Forestry and Life Sciences, our lab develops chromatographic and mass-spectrometric techniques to assist various research projects across the university, and train graduate and undergraduate students in the use and operation of various analytical instruments.


(Past 4 years)

Xia, M., Valverde-Barrantes, O., Suseela, V., Blackwood, C., Tharayil, N. 2021. Coordination between compound-specific chemistry and morphology in roots aligns with ancestral mycorrhizal affinity in woody angiosperms. New Phytologist.

Freschet et al. 2021. A starting guide to root ecology: strengthening ecological concepts and standardizing root classification, sampling, processing and trait measurements. New Phytologist.

Huynh, K., Corkidi, L. Leonard, E., Palmer, C., Bethke, J., Tharayil, N. 2021. Dissipation and Transformation of the Diamide Insecticide Cyantraniliprole in Ornamental Snapdragon. Chemosphere,

Huynh, K., Leonard, E., Palmer, C., Chong, J-H., Tharayil, N. Persistence and Metabolism of the Diamide Insecticide Cyantraniliprole in Tomato Plants. Scientific Reports.

Jatana, B.S., Kitchens, C., Ray, C., Tharayil, N. 2021. Dual inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and phosphorus solubilizing fungi synergistically enhances the mobilization and plant uptake of phosphorus from meat and bone meal. Frontiers in Soil Science. DOI: 10.3389/fsoil.2021.757839

Adelberg, J. W., El-Hawaz, R. F. A., Tanner, C., Tharayil, N. 2021. Shade and Fertilizer Affects Yield and Quality in a Clonal Plantation of Yaupon Holly. Journal of Medicinally Active Plants. 10,

Kumar et al. 2021. Genetic Architecture of Maize Rind Strength Revealed by the Analysis of Divergently Selected Populations. Plant and Cell Physiology.

Suseela V*, Tharayil N, Orr G, Hu D. 2020. Chemical plasticity in the fine root construct of Quercus spp. varies with root order and drought. New Phytologist (

Narverkar, A. Tharayil, N. 2020. Nitrogen fertilization influences the quantity, composition, and tissue-association of foliar phenolics in strawberries. Frontiers in Plant Sciences.

Jatana, B.S., Kitchens, C., Ray, C., Tharayil, N. 2020. Regulating the nutrient release rates from proteinaceous agricultural byproducts using organic amendments and its effect on soil chemical and microbiological properties. Biology and Fertility of Soils.

Edayilam, N.; Montgomery, D.; Ferguson, B.; Maroli A.S.; Martinez, N.; Powell, B.A.; Tharayil, N. 2020. Dissolution and vertical transport of uranium from stable mineral forms by plants as influenced by the co-occurrence of uranium with phosphorus. Environmental Science & Technology.

Pereksta D, King D, Saki F, Maroli A, Leonard E, Suseela V, May S, Uribe MC, Tharayil N, and Hoewyk D V. 2020. Proteasome inhibition in Brassica napus roots causes broad metabolic dysregulation. Plant and Cell Physiology,

Ateia M., Attia M., Maroli A., Tharayil N., Whithead D., Alexis F., and Karanfil T. 2019. Rapid Removal of Poly- and Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances by olyethylenimine-functionalized Cellulose Microcrystals at Environmentally Relevant Conditions. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 5, 12, 764-769

Ateia M., Arifuzzaman, M.D., Pellizzeri, S., Attia, M.F., Tharayil, N., Anker, J.N., and Karanfil, T. 2019. Cationic Polymer for Selective Removal of GenX and Short-chain PFAS from Surface waters and Wastewaters at ng/L Levels. Water Research. 163. 114874

Ateia M., Maroli, A., Tharayil, N., and Karanfil, T. 2019. The overlooked short- and ultrashort-chain poly- and perfluorinated substances: A review. Chemosphere. 220:866-882.

Xiao, R.; Li, X. Leonard, E., Tharayil, N., Zheng, Y. 2019. Investigation on the Effects of Cultivation Conditions, Fed-batch Operation, and Enzymatic Hydrolysate of Corn Stover on the Astaxanthin Production by Thraustochytrium striatum. Algal Research.

Kumar R, Bishop E, Bridges WC, Tharayil N, Sekhon RS. 2019. Sugar Partitioning and Source?Sink Interaction are Key Determinants of Leaf Senescence in Maize. Plant Cell & Environment. doi: 10.1111/pce.13599.

Bowers JJ, Gunawardena HP, Cornu A, Narvekar AS, Richieu A, Deffieux D, Quideau S, Tharayil N. 2018. Rapid Screening of Ellagitannins in Natural Sources via Targeted Reporter Ion Triggered Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Scientific Reports 8:10399 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-27708-3

Maroli, A.S; Gaines, T.A.; Foley, M.E.; Duke,S.O.; Do?ramac?, M.; Anderson, J.V; Horvath, D.P.; Chao, W.S.; and Tharayil, N. 2018. Omics In Weed Science: A Perspective From Genomics, Transcriptomics, And Metabolomics Approaches. Weed Science (

Suseela V., Tharayil N. 2018. Decoupling the direct and indirect effects of climate on plant litter decomposition and terrestrial nutrient cycling. Global Change Biology. 24: 1428-1451

Nimisha Edayilam, N.; Montgomery, D.; Ferguson, B.; Maroli A.S.; Martinez, N.; Powell, B.A.; Tharayil, N. 2018. Phosphorus Stress-Induced Changes in Plant Root Exudation Could Potentially Facilitate Uranium Mobilization from Stable Mineral Forms. Environmental Science & Technology. 52:7652-7662

Montgomery, D., Edayilam, N. Tharayil, N. Powell, B. and Martinez, N. 2018. “Uptake and translocation of 99Tc, 137Cs, 237Np and 238U in the grass species Andropogon Virginicus,” Health Physics (early online; DOI: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000848)

Pales, A.R., Li, B., Clifford, H.M., Kupis, S. Edayilam, N., Montgomery, D., Liang, W., Dogan, M., Tharayil, N., Martinez, N., Moysey, S., Powell, B., Darnault, C.J.G., 2018. Preferential flow systems amended with biogeochemical components: Imaging of a two-dimensional study,” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 22, 2487-2509

Maroli AS, Nandula VK, Duke SO, Gerard P, Tharayil N. 2018. Comparative Metabolomic Analyses of Ipomoea lacunosa Biotypes with Contrasting Glyphosate Tolerance Captures Herbicide-Induced Differential Perturbations in Cellular Physiology. Journal of Agriculture & Food Chem. 66:2027-2036

Top S, Preston C, Dukes J, Tharayil, N. 2017. Temperature and moisture influence the quantity and composition of tannins in both green and senesced Quercus rubra leaves Frontiers in Plant Sciences

Tamura M, Suseela V, Simpson M, Powell. B, Tharayil N. 2017.Plant invasions alter the content and molecular identity of organic carbon associated with soil mineral and aggregate fractions. Global Change Biology. 23: 4002-4018

Almuzini M., Decker C.#, Wang D., Gerard P., Tharayil. N. 2017. Nutrient Supply and Simulated Herbivory Differentially Alter the Metabolite Pools and the Efficacy of the Glucosinolate-Based Defense System in Brassica Species. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 43: 129-142.

Suseela V, Pendall E and Rao A; Tharayil N. 2017. Warming and elevated CO2 alter the suberin chemistry in roots of photosynthetically divergent grasses. AOB Plants. 9: plx041; doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plx041.

Niedzwiecka, J., Drew, S., Schlautman, M., Millerick, K., Grubbs, E., Tharayil, N., Finneran, K. 2017.Iron and electron shuttle mediated (bio)degradation of the military next generation insensitive munition 2,4-dinitroanisole (DNAN). Environmental Science & Technology. 51:10729-10735

Montgomery D., Barber K., Edayilam N., Oquiiuba S., Biotidara T. et al. 2017. The influence of citrate and oxalate on 99TcVII, Cs, NpV and UVI sorption to a Savannah River Site soil. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 172: 130-142.

Maroli A., Nandula V., Duke S., Gerard P., Tharayil N. 2016. Stable isotope resolved metabolomics reveals the role of anabolic and catabolic processes in glyphosate-induced amino acid accumulation in Amaranthus palmeri biotypes. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry. 64:7040-7048

Suseela V, Alpert P, Nakatsu H C, Tamura M, Amstrong A and Tharayil N. 2016. Plant-soil feedback shapes the identity and persistence of soil organic carbon in invaded ecosystems: implication for legacy effect. Functional Ecology 30, 1227–1238.

El-Hawaz R., Tharayil N., Bridges W., Adelberg J. 2016. Mineral nutrition of Curcuma longa L. in bioreactors affects subsequent development of curcuminoids following transfer to the greenhouse. Industrial Crops & Products. 83: 186-193.


Muti-User Analytical Laboratory