R. Geeta, Professor, Department of Botany, University of Delhi, Delhi

Information on R. Geeta's Students, Teaching and Training efforts


After getting undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the Department of Botany, University of Delhi (1969-74) and teaching for two years at Miranda House, University of Delhi (1974-76), I joined the Agricultural Research Service, working at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research and then at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (1976-1987). I then went on to get a Ph.D. degree at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, working under Michael Donoghue (1987-1993). I was awarded the Katherine Esau Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the University of California at Davis with Jim Doyle, Judy Jernstedt and Neelima Sinha (1994-1997). I joined the faculty of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at SUNY Stony Brook and was there from 1997 to 2009. I left Stony Brook and the US to join the Department of Botany, University of Delhi, in 2009. Full circle.

Biodiversity Studies: Plant Systematics and Evolution

Biodiversity includes the diversity of taxa and their traits. How did this diversity come about? Does the diversity represent a range of solutions that deal with the “problem” of living? What are these problems and what are the solutions? Answers to these questions represent understanding of the history of biodiversity.

Understanding this history entails two things: understanding the historical paths of change (what happened, when?) and understanding the underlying processes (what factors are behind such changes?).

My research is focussed on tracing the historical path of biological diversification. My goal is to integrate understanding of multiple processes (developmental, morphogenetic, physiological) at multiple levels (molecular, cellular, organismal) to obtain a comprehensive understanding of evolving biological systems (plants). This work involves the marriage of multiple disciplines, e.g., traditional botany, modern molecular genetics and, critically, phylogenetics (reconstruction of evolutionary relationships among taxa and using the phylogenetic framework to analyse data from many species). The taxonomic scope of this work includes monocotyledons, Dioscorea, Crotalaria and fungi; phylogenetic and developmental studies use both molecular and morphological data. My collaborators and I have studied developmental and evolutionary patterns of variation in characters at different levels of organization: morphological (leaf development and evolution), cellular (reproductive development), subcellular (relocalization of duplicate proteins), genomic (nuclear DNA amount and phenotypic correlates), and molecular (Knox, a homeobox multigene family) and through integrative phylogenetic analyses. Our studies have also extended into evolutionary ecology and historical analysis (presence of Datura in Asia).

Current research in my lab includes investigation of phylogenetic systematics and biochemical, morphological evolution and biogeography in Dioscorea (true yams), floral and fruit evolution in Rhododendron, Justicia and Impatiens.