- I have worked on the gene action for rust resistance in cowpea for my master's, during which I have had fairly good training in quantitative genetics and worked on quantitative genetics of rust disease in cowpea.
- My doctoral study was at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore that is a premier institute. I worked on colony founding in the primitively eusocial wasp, Ropalidia marginata. I monitored preemergence colonies of R. marginata in the field as well as in the laboratory and compared the reproductive output of those that opt to nest solitarily with those that choose to nest in groups of varying number of individuals. I have also carried out extensive behavioral observations using various sampling methods in order to study the social organization during the preemergence phase of the colony cycle. I have quantified the behaviors observed and subjected the data to statistical analysis. This has helped me become familiar with the sampling techniques for behaviour, using personal computers, statistical analysis and statistical software.
- I worked on division of labor and work organization in the lower termite Reticulitermes fukienensis during my post-doctoral work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) under Dr. M. W. J. Crosland. During my stay at CUHK as a post-doctoral fellow in addition to carrying out experiments, I had written a grant proposal entitled "A model lower termite to understand division of labour amongst workers" with Dr. Crosland as the principal investigator. The grant proposal was successful and was awarded HK$ 780,830 (US$ 100,000) but could not be accepted due to unforeseen circumstances.
- I was visitor in the Drosophila laboratory of Prof. J. W. Curtsinger at the department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, USA. During my stay in the Drosophila lab, I was involved in the on going project of mechanisms of aging in Drosophila. Specifically I was involved in collecting data on longevity, fecundity and measuring flight activity of the inbred lines maintained in Prof. Curtsingers' lab.
- I worked as a post-doctoral fellow with Prof. Amitabh Joshi at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India. During this time, I addressed the issue of how selection on pre-adult stage affects the life-history traits in the adult stage. Specifically, I studied how selection for faster development (reduced pre-adult duration) affects the adult fitness components like time to sexual maturity and lifetime reproductive success in the selected and control population of Drosophila melanogaster.
- I was a visiting fellow at the Transcription and Disease Laboratory of Prof. T. K. Kundu, Molecular Biology and Genetics Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.
Brief Statement of Research
- Population genetics theory is based on mutation, selection and drift-the three forces of evolution. One approach to understanding the micro-evolutionary processes has been through the study of life-history traits. Since most life-history traits are complex and multigenic, their study has largely been the realm of quantitative genetics- that consists of a set of approaches that establish how certain statistical measures of genetic variation relate to phenotypic variation. However, the quantitative genetics approach is limited by
- (i) incomplete understanding of how genetic networks lead to phenotypes, and
- (ii) incomplete description of the genotypic state of individuals for which a phenotype has been measured. It is necessary to assess the genotypic constitution of individuals and populations of organisms by gathering information on molecular polymorphism and divergence. Polymorphisms associated with quantitative traits will need to be shown to affect gene function and the phenotype being measured. Evolutionary hypotheses will have to be tested using mutants and transgenic animals.
- The study of life-history traits have shown the existence of negative genetic correlations (tradeoffs) between various traits. By subjecting Drosophila melanogaster to simultaneous selection on two traits that are shown to be negatively genetically correlated I have been able to select for increased trait value of both the traits. Thus, the polymorphisms associated with the two quantitative traits seem to be fully expressed. By using the functional genomics methods-particularly microarray it might be possible to assess the genotypic constitution of individuals and populations of organisms and help in filling the long-standing 'black-boxes' in evolutionary theory.
- I am also interested in division of labor and work organization in a social insect colony that is thought to enhance efficiency through task partitioning among different individuals. This is analogous to specific functions performed by individual components (say organ systems of a multicellular organism) in a multilevel system. In order to appreciate the evolution of complex systems, it is necessary to understand the evolution of complexity from simple forms (bottom up approach). This can be done by studying a system that offers a graded array of behavioural complexity such as the insect order Isoptera (Termites) in which the colonies have fascinating organizational structures based on morphological differentiation or age polyethism. I have previously worked on this system in India and abroad and more recently, have received a grant from Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, for further research.
- Students have an opportunity to participate at multiple levels in both the studies right from the maintenance of populations to looking at the divergence at the molecular genetic level and gene expression pattern.
- I have taught classical, population and quantitative genetics, behavioural ecology and sociobiology during my previous assignments. Currently I am teaching Biostatistics, Neural and Behaviour Biology and Topics in Neurobiology.
Areas of Research Interestes
- Evolutionary Genetics, Population Genetics, Behavioural Genetics, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and Biodiversity.
Editorial and Review Work
- Member, Editorial Board of Journal of Genetics, Aug 2004-2012.
- Outside reviewer for manuscripts submitted to Animal Behaviour, Insectes Socioux,
- Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, Frontiers in Zoology, Journal of Genetics, Journal of Biosciences, Resonance: Journal of Science Education, Current Science, Proceedings of Indian National Science Academy: Biological Sciences, Entomon, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.
- Choudhary S., Sageena G., Roshan R. and Shakarad M. 2014. Effect of nutrition on the ontogeny of fertility in insect systems. International Conference on Environmental Biology and Ecological Modelling-2014. Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. 24-26 February 2014. Pp 59.
- Chandrashekara, KT and Mallikarjun Shakarad. 2011. Anti Ageing effect of Aloe vera on short lived Drosophila melanogaster. Ist international symposium on challenges in drug discovery, Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, India. 16- 17 February 2011. pp 55.
- Shakarad, M. 2008. Testing the theories of division of labour in a higher termite, Odontotermes obesus. 32nd Conference of the Ethological Society and National Symposium on Fish Behaviour, Versova, Andheri (W), Mumbai, India.
- Shakarad, M. 2005. The simultaneous evolution of faster development and elongated lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster under multiple trait selection. 10th Congress of European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Krakow, Poland.
- Shakarad, M, and Korb, J. 2003. Development of neotenics in the lower termite, Cryptotermes secundus. 28th Conference of the Ethological Society of India, Tirunelveli, India.
- Shakarad, M., Prasad, N. G., Rajamani, M. and Joshi, A. 2001. Evolution of life-time fecundity patterns in Drosophila melanogaster. XXVII International Ethological Conference, Tübingen, Germany.
- Arathi, H.S., Shakarad, M. and Gadagkar, R. 1998. Social organization in genetically diverse colonies of Ropalidia marginata: Implications for social evolution. Proceedings of the XIII International Congress of IUSSI, Adelaide, Australia.
- Crosland, M. W. J., Shakarad, M., Lok, E. and Traniello, J. F. A. 1996. Temporal polyethism in the termite Reticulitermes fukienensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, U.S.A.
- Crosland, M. W. J., Shakarad, M., Lok, C. M., Zhang, J. H., Wong, T. C. and Traniello, J. F. A. 1996. Temporal polyethism in the termite Reticulitermes fukienensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). XX International Congress of Entomology, Frienze, Italy.
- Arathi, H.S., Shakarad, M. and Gadagkar, R. 1996. Testing kinship theory with Ropalidia marginata. XX International Congress of Entomology, Frienze, Italy.
- Arathi, H.S., Shakarad, M. and Gadagkar, R. 1996. Co-operation among non-kin of Ropalidia marginata. 6th international Behavioural Ecology Conference, Canberra, Australia.
- Shakarad, M. 1999. Review of ”Annual Review of Entomology” vol. 44. Current Science, 77: 1106-1107.