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Rajeev Kumar: a matter of meiosis

INRA researcher Rajeev Kumar uses biochemistry to study the mechanics of heredity

Rajeev Kumar is a research scientist at the Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (INRA, AgroParisTech, ELR CNRS).
Photo taken in a greenhouse on the Versailles site. © INRA, Corine Enard
By Catherine Foucaud-Scheunemann, translated by Emma Morton Saliou
Updated on 06/23/2017
Published on 01/19/2016

Rajeev Kumar sparkles when he talks about meiosis. The subject has filled his days as a scientist for several years and particularly since he joined the Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (INRA, AgroParisTech, ELR CNRS) in 2014, marking another milestone in an interesting career.

Crossing over to Europe

In 2001, after obtaining a Masters in biochemistry at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Rajeev Kumar left India for Germany, where he obtained his doctorate in biology at the AWTH Aachen University in Aachen, studying the biosynthesis of vitamin E in colza oil. Over the years, his expertise in biochemistry and genetics has grown along with his findings, which have been published in illustrious international journals.

Upon completing his studies, R. Kumar decided to pursue a career in France, where he worked at the Institut Pasteur (Paris), the Institute of Human Genetics (Montpellier), and the Institut Curie (Paris).

Over the course of nearly ten years, Rajeev Kumar has acquired solid experience and expertise in the areas of molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry, working on projects to study DNA repair, homologous recombination in organisms ranging from bacteria, yeasts and mammals.

Meiosis and crossover regulation

In 2014, Rajeev Kumar passed the INRA recruitment exams and was hired as a researcher on Raphaël Mercier’s “Meiosis and Apomixis” team in the Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (INRA, AgroParisTech, ELR CNRS).

Model plants, an opportunity for understanding heredity

In the past year, R. Kumar has applied his skills to the continued study of meiosis, now focused on its mechanisms using Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant more commonly known as thale cress.

In the large majority of species, little chromosomal crossover occurs during meiosis and the mechanisms behind this limitation remain, for the most part, unknown. Recent studies conducted by Rajeev’s team have revealed the existence of at least three mechanisms limiting meiotic crossover, one of which involves a FIDGETIN-Like-1 or FIGL1 protein which is found in plants and humans and the function of which was until now unknown. Mr Kumar is exploring the role of FIGL1 in meiosis and the mechanisms of its regulation using a biochemical approach – to his great enjoyment.

Associated Division(s):
Plant Biology and Breeding
Associated Centre(s):


  • 38 years old
  • 2012-2014 Post doc studies at the Institut Curie
  • 2007-2012 Post doc studies at the Institute of Human Genetics (CNRS)- AXA grant (March 2011 – September 2012)
  • 2006-2007 Post doc studies at the Institut Pasteur- Egide scholarship programme (2006)
  • 2005 PhD in Biology from AWTH Aachen University

Overview: Meiosis

Meiosis is a specific type of cell division by which gametes – sex cells – are generated in all living things – animals, plants, fungi – which reproduce sexually.

The process consists of two successive cell divisions which produce four daughter cells (the source of future gametes) carrying only half of the chromosomes of the parent cell. Immediately prior to the first division, homologous chromosomes pair with each other and certain components come into contact to allow the exchange of fragments of genetic material between chromosomes. These natural processes, called crossovers, contribute to the mixing of genetic information at the individual and species level. They also play an essential mechanical role in the correct distribution of chromosomes.

This genetic mixing can be studied in cultivated plants to develop the characteristics needed for agriculture in new plant varieties.