Skip over navigation

Autar Mattoo

Dr. Mattoo has been a research scientist for 40 years. He has spent the last 25 years with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.  Prior to returning to bench research in 2004, he served as a Research Leader for 16 years: nine years heading the Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory and seven years heading the Vegetable Laboratory at USDA-ARS.  His accomplishments are documented in 221 publications (146 peer-reviewed papers, 48 symposium proceedings, 22 book chapters and 5 edited books).  He has guided: thirty-two M.S., fifteen Ph.D. students as a major or co-major advisor, and 35 postdoctoral research associates from the U.S. and foreign countries. Dr. Mattoo has been an invited keynote speaker and/or session Chair at numerous international symposia, spanning 18 countries. Dr. Mattoo has received the highest awards from Beltsville Area (Scientist of the Year), ARS (Senior Distinguished Research Scientist of the Year), and USDA (People Making a Difference Award and Honor Award for personal and professional “Scientific Excellence”). Roper consumer survey named his creation of genetically engineered high lycopene tomatoes as the top development in food biotechnology in 2002. In 2006, the Association of Indian Americans named Dr. Mattoo Scientist of the Year. Dr. Mattoo has served on a number of advisory and consulting committees, including as a member of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural and Development (BARD) Fund (1999-2001), US State Dept International Visiting Lecturer as Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology Expert (India-2004; Philippines and Thailand-2002), Cornell-Eastern-Europe-Mexico (CEEM) Group (Poland-2001); Overseas Scientific Advisory Committee, Biotechnology, Government of India (2005-to date).

Dr. Mattoo’s current research focus is on the following areas:

Molecular Biology for Enhancing Phytonutrients in Tomato Fruit
We have targeted key genes in the fruit ripening process, and those in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway to prolong the shelf-life and enhance nutritional quality of tomatoes. We have genetically engineered tomato fruit using development and stage-specific promoters for enabling continuation of anabolic processes late into ripening and accumulating cancer-preventing antioxidants such as lycopene, Vitamin C, essential amino acids, and micronutrients such as choline – an important nutrient with great potential for brain development.  Detailed analysis of transgenic plants should help elucidate the key genes that control these processes.


Integrating Transgenic, Value-Added Plants with Sustainable Agriculture Systems
Cover crop management in growing horticultural produce reduces soil erosion and limits input of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. We have recently shown a select and unique relationship between leaf senescence, disease tolerance and specific gene expression in cover crop-grown tomato plant. For value-added produce generated by transgenic technology to remain sustainable, we are integrating transgenic lines with the cover crop-based agriculture system, towards a new paradigm for sustainable agriculture. We have demonstrated in field tests a synergistic relationship between growth conditions and specific transgenic plants in up-regulating carbon and nitrogen indicator genes.;;

EDELMAN - MATTOO PHOTOSYNTHESIS TEAM: Dr. Autar Mattoo and Prof. Marvin Edelman,  (Department of Plant Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) have worked as a synergistic team for the past three decades, discovering and unraveling the regulatory steps and mechanisms involved in the cycling of the PSII reaction center proteins, including the metabolism, intra-membrane mobility and reversible acylation and phosphorylation of the D1 protein.