Dr Puja Kumari

        Puja Kumari wearing a white jumper in front of a colourful background

Lecturer in Macroalgal Research

I am a phycologist interested in understanding how different algae interact with its abiotic and biotic environment using biochemical, molecular and applied omics approaches. I also work in the area of algal bioprospection and developing value-added products.

Contact details:

I am a phycologist having an interdisciplinary background of chemistry, biochemistry and biotechnology. I have 13 years of experience of working with basic and applied phycology (mainly macroalgae) including abiotic / biotic stress physiology, developing algal culturing and life cycle strategies, chemical ecology, lipid biochemistry, metabolomics, host pathogen interaction and algal bioprospection.  My research uses both traditional biochemical, molecular and applied omics technologies (metabolomics, lipidomics, transcriptomics) to understand fundamental and applied research questions.

My main research goals are:

  - Understanding how different algae interact with its abiotic and biotic environment from climate change perspectives.

  - Developing strategies (eg. Priming, selective breeding) to obtain improved climate resilient algal strains.

  - Understanding and manipulating complex macroalgal life cycles to improve hatchery techniques for seaweed nursery.

  - Exploring new (novel) applications of algae in nutraceutical, health, food and pharmaceutical applications.


Previous projects

Halogen metabolism of brown macroalgae and its biological significance in the context of pathologies - An omics approach (HALOSPATH)

European Commission Horizon-2020 (MSCA-IF), 2020 - 2023.

Mijovilovich A, Cloetens P, Lanzirotti A, Newville M, Wellenreuther G, Kumari P, Katsaros C, Carrano CJ, Küpper H, Küpper FC. Synchrotron X-rays reveal the modes of Fe binding and trace metal storage in the brown algae Laminaria digitata and Ectocarpus siliculosus. Metallomics 2023, 15(10), mfad058.

Al-Adilah H, Feiters MC, Carpenter LJ, Kumari P, Carrano CJ, Al-Bader D, Küpper FC Halogens in Seaweeds: Biological and Environmental Significance. Phycology 2022, 2, 132-171.

Al-Adilah H, Al-Sharrah TK, Al-Bader D, Ebel R, Küpper FC Kumari P Assessment of Arabian Gulf Seaweeds from Kuwait as Sources of Nutritionally Important Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs). Foods 2021, 10, 2442.

Khoa, HV, Kumari P, Uchida H, Murakami A, Shimada S, Mikami K Heat-stress responses differ among species from different ‘Bangia’ clades of Bangiales (Rhodophyta). Plants 2021, 10, 1733.

Al-Adilah H, Al-Bader DA, Elktob M, Kosma I, Kumari P, Küpper FC Trace element concentrations in seaweeds of the Arabian Gulf identified by morphology and DNA barcodes. Bot Mar 2021 64(4), 327-338.

Kumari P, Cna’ani A, Didi-Cohen S, Tzin V, Khozin-Goldberg I (2020) Nitrogen deprivation-induced production of volatile organic compounds in the arachidonic-acid-accumulating microalga Lobosphaera incisa underpins their role as ROS scavengers and chemical messengers. Front Mar Sci 2020, 7:410.

Takahashi M, Kumari P, Li C, Mikami K Low temperature causes discoloration by repressing growth and nitrogen transporter gene expression in the edible red alga Pyropia yezoensis. Mar Environ Res 2020, 159:105004.

Kugler A, Kumari P, Kokabi K, Itkin M, Malitsky S, Khozin-Goldsberg I. Resilience to freezing in the vegetative cells of the microalga Lobosphaera incisa (Trebouxiophyceae, Chlorophyta). J Phycol 2020, 56(2): 334-345.

Balar N, Sharnagat P, Kumari P, Mantri VA. Variation in the proximate composition of edible marine macroalga Ulva rigida collected from different coastal zones of India. J Food Sci Technol 2019, 56:4749-4755.

Kugler A, Zorin B, Didi-Cohen S, Sibiryak M, Gorelova O, Ismagulova T, Kokabi K, Kumari P et al. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the green microalga Lobosphaera incisa contribute to tolerance to abiotic stresses. Plant Cell Physiol 2019, 1;60(6):1205-1223

Mendelovich M, Shoshan M, Fridlender M, Mazuz M, Namder D, Nallathambi R, Selvaraj G, Kumari P. et al. Effect of Ephedra foeminea active compounds on cell viability and actin structures in cancer cell lines. J Med Plants Res 2017, 11(43): 690-702.

Nallathambi R, Mazuz M, Ion A, Selvaraj G, Weininger S, Fridlender M, Nasser A, Sagee O, Kumari P. et al. Anti-Inflammatory activity in colon models is derived from d9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid that interacts with additional compounds in Cannabis extracts. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res 2017, 2.1:167-182.

Madmon O, Mazuz M, Kumari P, Dam A, Ion A, Mayzlish-Gati E. et al. Expression of MAX2 under SCARECROW promoter enhances the strigolactone/MAX2 dependent response of Arabidopsis roots to low-phosphate conditions. Planta 2016, 243(6):1419-27.

Fridlender M, Lace B, Wininger S, Dam A, Kumari P, Belausov E, Tsemach H, Kapulnik Y, Prandi C, Koltai H. Influx and efflux of strigolactones are actively regulated and involve the cell trafficking system. Mol Plant 2015, 8(12):1809-12. (Letter)

Singh RP, Kumari P, Reddy CRK. Antimicrobial compounds from seaweeds - associated bacteria and fungi. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015, 99(4), 1571-86.

Gupta V, Kumari P, Reddy CRK. Development and characterization of somatic hybrids of Ulva reticulata Forsskål (×) Monostroma oxyspermum (Kutz.) Doty. Front Plant Sci 2015, 6(3):1-15.

Baghel RS, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Growth, pigments and biochemical composition of marine red alga Gracilaria crassa. J Appl Phycol 2014, 26(5):2143-2150.

Gupta V, Baghel RS, Kumar M, Kumari P, Mantri VA, Reddy CRK, Bhavnath Jha. Growth and agarose characteristics of isomorphic gametophyte (male and female) and sporophyte of Gracilaria dura and their marker assisted selection. Aquaculture 2011, 318:389-396.

Mantri V A, Singh RP, Bijo AJ, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Differential response of varying salinity and temperature on zoospore induction, regeneration and daily growth rate in Ulva fasciata (Chlorophyta, Ulvales). J Appl Phycol 2011, 23:243-250.

Singh RP, Shukla MK, Mishra A, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Isolation and characterization of exopolysaccharides from seaweed associated bacteria Bacillus licheniformis. Carbohyd Polym 2011, 84:1019-1026.

Baghel RS, Kumari P, Bijo AJ, Gupta M, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Genetic analysis and marker assisted identification of life phases of red alga Gracilaria corticata (J. Agardh). Mol Biol Rep 2011, 38:4211-4218.

Gupta M, Kumar M, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Optimization of protoplast yields from the red algae Gracilaria dura (C. Agardh) J. Agardh and G. verrucosa (Huds.) Papenfuss. J Appl Phycol 2011, 23:209-218.

Trivedi N, Gupta M, Kumar M, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. An alkali-halotolerant cellulase from Bacillus flexus isolated from green seaweed Ulva lactuca. Carbohyd Polym 2011, 83:891-897.

Trivedi N, Gupta M, Kumar M, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Solvent tolerant marine bacterium Bacillus aquimaris secreting organic solvent stable alkaline cellulose. Chemosphere 2011, 83:706-712.

Kumar M, Kumari P, Trivedi N, Shukla K, Gupta M, Reddy CRK, Jha B Minerals, PUFAs and antioxidant properties of some tropical seaweeds from Saurashtra coast of India. J Appl Phycol 2011, 23:797-810.

Kumar M, Gupta M, Trivedi N, Kumari P, Bijo AJ, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Desiccation induced oxidative stress and its biochemical responses in intertidal red alga Gracilaria corticata (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta). Environ Exp Bot 2011, 72:194-201.

Singh RP, Gupta M, Kumari P, Kumar M, Reddy CRK, Prasad K, Jha B. Purification and partial characterization of an extracellular alginate lyase from Aspergillus oryzae isolated from brown seaweed. J Appl Phycol 2011, 23:755-762.

Kumar M, Gupta M, Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Assessment of nutrient composition and antioxidant potential of Caulerpaceae seaweeds. J Food Com. Anal 2011, 24:270-278.

Kumar M, Kumari P, Gupta M, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Biochemical responses of red alga Gracilaria corticata (Gracilariales, Rhodophyta) to salinity induced oxidative stress. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 2010, 391:27-34.

Kumar M, Kumari P, Gupta M, Anisha P A, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Differential responses to cadmium induced oxidative stress in marine macroalga Ulva lactuca (Ulvales, Chlorophyta). Biometals 2010, 23:315-325.

Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Methyl jasmonate-induced lipidomic and biochemical alterations in the intertidal macroalga Gracilaria dura (Gracilariaceae, Rhodophyta). Plant Cell Physiol 2015 56(10):1877-1889.

Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Nitrate and phosphate regimes induced lipidomic and biochemical alterations in the intertidal macroalga Ulva lactuca (Ulvophyceae, Chlorophyta). Plant Cell Physiol 2014, 55(1):52-63.

Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Quantification of select endogenous hydroxy-oxylipins from tropical marine macroalgae. Mar Biotechnol 2014, 16:74-87.

Kumari P, Bijo AJ, Mantri VA, CRK Reddy, Jha B. Fatty acid profiling of tropical marine macroalgae: An analysis from chemotaxonomic and nutritional perspectives. Phytochemistry 2013, 86:44-56.

Kumari P, Singh R P, Bijo AJ, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Estimation of lipid hydroperoxide levels in tropical marine macroalgae. J Phycol 2012, 48:1362-1373.

Kumari P, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Comparative evaluation and selection of a method for lipid and fatty acid extraction from macroalgae. Anal Biochem 2011, 415:134-144.

Kumari P, Kumar M, Gupta M, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Tropical marine macroalgae as potential sources of nutritionally important PUFAs. Food Chem 2010, 120:749-757.


Book Chapters

Kumari P Seaweed lipidomics in the era of 'omics' biology- A contemporary persepective. In: Kumar M, Ralph P (eds.) System biology of marine ecosystems. 2017, Springer Cham, pp 49- 97.

Kumar M, Kumari P, Reddy CRK and Jha B. Salinity and desiccation induced oxidative stress acclimation in seaweeds. In: Nathalie, B (ed.) Sea Plants. Adv. Bot. Res. 2014, 71, pp 91-123.

Kumari P, Kumar M, Reddy CRK, Jha B. Algal lipids, fatty acids and sterols. In Herminia Domínguez ed. Functional ingredients from algae for food and nutraceuticals. Woodhead Publishing Ltd. UK. 2013 pp 87-134.



Reddy CRK, Baghel R S, Trivedi N, Kumari P, Gupta V, Prasad K, Meena R.  An integrated process to recover a spectrum of bio-products from fresh seaweeds. 2013 Indian Patent IN3811/DEL/2013, 2016 International Patent WO 2015/102021A8, 2018 US 10000579B2, 2018 EP3089999B1, 2019 AU2014374908B2.


Module Leader - MSc Aquaculture, Environment and Society Star (ACES-STAR) - Managing Biological Lifecycles – Micro and macroalgae 


Alumni PhD Students

Hanan Al-Adilah - Halogen metabolism in seaweeds of the Arabian Gulf. Oct, 2017 – Feb, 2022 University of Aberdeen

Professional memberships and roles

  - British Phycological Society (since Jan 2021)

  - International Phycological Society (since Feb 2021)

  - North-East Algal Society (since Feb 2021)

  - Marine Biological Association (Professional Member; mem.MBA) (since Aug 2022)

  - International Society of Applied Phycology (since September 2023)


Outreach/public engagement

EXPLORATHON 2021 – “Seaweed the Marine Commodity”. 24 September 2021 online available. Explorathon Lunch Bytes 2021 - Episode 4 | Public Engagement with Research | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)


Prizes / awards 

Nov 2020 – Jan 2023 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships (MSCA-IF) awarded by European Union (Grant agreement number-839151), University of Aberdeen, UK (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/839151)

Nov 2018 – Sept 2020 JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by Japanese Society for Promotion of Science, Japan. (https://www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-fellow/e-ippan/index.html)

Dec 2017 – Sept 2019 Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded by Blaustein Institute of Desert Research, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

June 2015 - Awarded £1000 bursary visiting fellowship award by the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK for MSCA proposal grant writing towards early career development.

Nov 2014 – Nov 2016 - ARO Outstanding Post-doctoral Fellowship awarded by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Israel.

Jan 2011 – Oct 2013 Senior Research Fellowship awarded by CSIR, Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), Indian Government, New Delhi.

Jan 2009 – Jan 2011 - Junior Research Fellowship awarded by CSIR, Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD), Indian Government, New Delhi.

Nov 2007-Dec 2008 - Recipient of Junior Research Fellowship from GSBTM) Gujarat funded project, Centre of excellence in Marine Biotechnology and Ecology. 

June 2008 - Qualified in CSIR-UGC National Eligibility Test for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and Lectureship

March 2006 - Qualified in National Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering (2006) -conducted by Indian institute of Technology, Govt. of India.