Dr Sivakumar Sukumaran

Research Fellow

Centre for Crop Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
+61 7 336 54369


Dr. Sukumaran is a research fellow at the University of Queensland, working on sorghum genetics and genomics. Prior to joining UQ, Dr. Sukumaran worked at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico as post-doc, Associate Scientist, and Scientist & Lead of spring wheat pre-breeding from 2013 to 2021. His career focussed on developing improved spring wheat germplasm for the national breeding programs of several countries through utilizing the genetic resources at the CIMMYT's gene bank through physiological pre-breeding, genetic dissection of complex traits, and molecular breeding. He holds PhD in Agronomy (Plant Breeding and Genetics) from Kansas State University, USA, Master of Science in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kerala Agricultural University, India.

Current Research: Tillering is a crucial trait that influence grain yield under water limited conditions in the sorghum belt of Australia. The investigations into tiller dynamics in sorghum has the ultimate goal to understand shoot branching in sorghum, identify genetic and physiological mechanisms governing tillering, and to predict the tiller number across different genotype, environment, and management (GxExM) scenarios. Utilizing methodologies such as (1) genome to phenome - analysis of large scale genomics data, comparative genomics, pan-genome, gene enrichment, gene duplication analysis - and (2) phenome to genome - screening of large scale diversity panels, divergent selection experiments, nested association mapping (NAM), genome-wide association mapping (GWAS), and linakge mapping (QTLs), Dr. Sukumaran's work aims to advance the understanding of sorghum tillering to improve resource use efficiency. This project is supported by ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture.

Previous Research: As a spring wheat pre-breeder and geneticist at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico, Dr. Sukumaran developed high yielding, drought and heat stress tolerant spring wheat lines under the umbrella of MasAgro (MasAgro), International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) and Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC) consortiums. These lines played a role in elite breeding programs in developing countries as parents of new varieties and were also selected as direct releases in some countries. His applied research, featured in over 35 journal articles and 7 book chapters, aimed to address strategies for enhancing yield potential and resilience to drought and heat stress in spring wheat. In 2018, Dr. Sukumaran received the Early Career Agricultural Scientist award from the Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO) for his contributions to wheat research and breeding.

Service: Beyond research, Dr. Sukumaran actively contributes to the scientific community. He serves as an associate editor for the Crop Science journal from the Crop Science Society of America and holds positions on the editorial boards of several other journals.

Research Interests

  • Genomic and physiological dissection of complex traits in sorghum and spring wheat
    Investigation into the regulatory gene networks of shoot branching in sorghum
  • Phenome to genome and genome to phenome studies
    Comparative genomics, pan-genome, gene-duplication, multi-location phenotyping, genome-wide association mapping, QTL mapping, haplotypes, genomic selection
  • Utilizing genetic resources through pre-breeding for genetic gains
    Source x sink crossing strategy, breeding for yield potential, drought stress, and heat stress.


  • Member, Crop Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America
  • Journal Editorial Board Member, Crop Science, Crop Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy of Agronomy and Crop Science, Kansas State University
  • Masters (Research) of Crop Genetics and Breeding, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
  • Bachelor of Professional Studies (Agriculture), Kerala Agricultural University


  • He, Fei, Wang, Wei, Rutter, William B., Jordan, Katherine W., Ren, Jie, Taagen, Ellie, DeWitt, Noah, Sehgal, Deepmala, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Reynolds, Matthew, Halder, Jyotirmoy, Sehgal, Sunish Kumar, Liu, Shuyu, Chen, Jianli, Fritz, Allan, Cook, Jason, Brown-Guedira, Gina, Pumphrey, Mike, Carter, Arron, Sorrells, Mark, Dubcovsky, Jorge, Hayden, Matthew J., Akhunova, Alina, Morrell, Peter L., Szabo, Les, Rouse, Matthew and Akhunov, Eduard (2022). Genomic variants affecting homoeologous gene expression dosage contribute to agronomic trait variation in allopolyploid wheat. Nature Communications, 13 (1) 826. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28453-y

  • Powell, Owen, McLean, Greg, Brider, Jason, Technow, Frank, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Jordan, David, Hammer, Graeme and Cooper, Mark (2022). Increasing Predictive Ability for Crop Improvement: Linking Crop Growth Models with Whole Genome Prediction. AuSoRGM, Toowoomba, QLD Australia, 18-19 August 2022.

  • Hussain, Babar, Akpınar, Bala A., Alaux, Michael, Algharib, Ahmed M., Sehgal, Deepmala, Ali, Zulfiqar, Aradottir, Gudbjorg I., Batley, Jacqueline, Bellec, Arnaud, Bentley, Alison R., Cagirici, Halise B., Cattivelli, Luigi, Choulet, Fred, Cockram, James, Desiderio, Francesca, Devaux, Pierre, Dogramaci, Munevver, Dorado, Gabriel, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Edwards, David, El-Hassouni, Khaoula, Eversole, Kellye, Fahima, Tzion, Figueroa, Melania, Gálvez, Sergio, Gill, Kulvinder S., Govta, Liubov, Gul, Alvina, Hensel, Goetz ... Budak, Hikmet (2022). Capturing Wheat Phenotypes at the Genome Level. Frontiers in Plant Science, 13 851079, 1-23. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.851079

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  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

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Book Chapter

  • Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Rebetkze, Greg, Mackay, Ian, Bentley, Alison R. and Reynolds, Matthew P. (2022). Pre-breeding strategies. Wheat Improvement. (pp. 451-469) edited by Matthew P. Reynolds and Hans-Joachim Braun. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-90673-3_25

  • Harikrishna, , Shashikumara, P., Gajghate, Rahul, Devate, Narayana Bhat, Shiv, Aalok, Mehta, Brijesh Kumar, Sunilkumar, V. P., Rathan, N. D., Mottaleb, Khondoker Abdul, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Jain, Neelu, Singh, P. K. and Singh, Gyanendra Pratap (2022). Breaking the yield barriers to enhance genetic gains in wheat. New Horizons in Wheat and Barley Research: Global Trends, Breeding and Quality Enhancement. (pp. 179-226) edited by Prem Lal Kashyap, Vikas Gupta, Om Prakash Gupta, R. Sendhil, K. Gopalareddy, Poonam Jasrotia and Gyanendra Pratap Singh. Singapore: Springer Singapore. doi: 10.1007/978-981-16-4449-8_9

  • Mondal, Suchismita, Sallam, Ahmed, Sehgal, Deepmala, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Farhad, Md, Navaneetha Krishnan, J., Kumar, Uttam and Biswal, Akshaya (2021). Advances in breeding for abiotic stress tolerance in wheat. Genomic Designing for Abiotic Stress Resistant Cereal Crops. (pp. 71-103) edited by Chittaranjan Kole. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-75875-2_2

  • Reynolds, Matthew, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Pinto, Francisco and Molero, Gemma (2020). Physiological breeding for climate change. Population, agriculture, and biodiversity: problems and prospects. (pp. 181-208) edited by J. Perry Gustafson, Peter H. Raven and Paul R. Ehrlich. Columbia, MI, USA: University of Missouri Press.

  • Voss-Fels, Kai P., Herzog, Eva, Dreisigacker, Susanne, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Watson, Amy, Frisch, Matthias, Hayes, Ben and Hickey, Lee T. (2019). “SpeedGS” to accelerate genetic gain in spring wheat. Applications of genetic and genomic research in cereals. (pp. 303-327) edited by Thomas Miedaner and Viktor Korzun. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-08-102163-7.00014-4

  • Dreisigacker, Susanne, Sukumaran, Sivakumar, Guzman, Carlos, He, Xinyao, Lan, Caixa, Bonnett, David and Crossa, Jose (2016). Molecular marker-based selection tools in spring bread wheat improvement: CIMMYT experience and prospects. Molecular Breeding for Sustainable Crop Improvement: volume 2. (pp. 421-474) edited by Vijay Rani Rajpal, S. Rama Rao and S.N. Raina. Cham, Switzerland: Springer . doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-27090-6_16

  • Sukumaran, Sivakumar and Yu, Jianming (2014). Association mapping of genetic resources: Achievements and future perspectives. Genomics of Plant Genetic Resources: Volume 1. Managing, Sequencing and Mining Genetic Resources. (pp. 207-235) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-7572-5_9

Journal Article

Conference Publication

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision