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Dr. A. Rathnayake

BSc, MSc, MSc, PhD

Lecturer (Unconfirmed)


Dr. Ajith Rathnayake joined to the Department of Bioprocess Technology in July 2019, straight after completing his PhD from the Natural Resources Institutes, University of Greenwich UK. His PhD work mainly focused on establishing the link between plant stress signaling and activatable endogenous pararetrovirus (EPRV) sequences in yam breeding lines.

Ajith holds a B.Sc (Special) degree in Botany (University of Ruhuna, SL), a M.Sc in Molecular and Applied Microbiology (PGIA, SL). In 2010, Ajith was awarded an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to follow a M.Sc program in Horticulture Sciences (University of Bologna, Italy, Technical University of Munich, Germany and BOKU, Austria). He did his master thesis work at Brigitte Poppenberger’s lab at the Technical University of Munich where he researched on Brasssinosteroid stress signaling pathway. Before start PhD, he worked at German Research Center for Food Chemistry at Freising, as a part time research assistant.

Ajith main interest lies in how botanical and microbial pesticides can be used to protect crops and to improve human health. In addition, he is also exploring how microalgae can be used to develop value added products. Ajith is also an expert in qRT-PCR, RCA, RNAseq and micro-propagation techniques.

Awards and external recognitions


  1. ADB Scholarship holder (M.Sc in Molecular and Applied Microbiology), Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
  2. Erasmus Mundus Scholarship holder (Horticulture Sciences), University of Bologna, Italy.
  3. Vice-Chancellor Scholarship holder (PhD), University of Greenwich, U.K.
Teaching programs and modules

BPT 2205: Molecular Biology
BPT 2209: Molecular Biotechnology
BPT 3201: Molecular Microbiology
BPT 3108: Seminar
BPT 3209: Scientific Writing
BPT 2203: Genetics and Evolution

Selected publications

Journal Publication

  1. Silva G., Bömer M., Rathnayake A.I., Sewe S.O., Visendi P., Oyekanmi J.O., Quain M.D., Akomeah B., Kumar P.L. & Seal S.E. (2019) Molecular Characterization of a New Virus Species Identified in Yam (Dioscorea spp.) by High-Throughput Sequencing. Plants8, 167.
  2. Bömer, Moritz, Rathnayake, Ajith I., Visendi, Paul, Sewe, Steven O., Sicat, Juan Paolo A., Silva, Gonçalo , Kumar, P. Lava and Seal, Susan E. (2018) Tissue culture and next-generation sequencing: A combined approach for detecting yam (Dioscorea spp.) viruses.Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology. ISSN 0885-5765 (Print), 1096-1178 (Online) (In Press) (doi:10.1016/j.pmpp.2018.06.003)
  3. Bömer, Moritz, Rathnayake, Ajith I., Visendi, Paul, Silva, Gonçalo and Seal, Susan E. (2017) Complete genome sequence of a new member of the genus Badnavirus, Dioscorea bacilliform RT virus 3, reveals the first evidence of recombination in yam badnaviruses.Archives of Virology. ISSN 0304-8608 (Print), 1432-8798 (Online) (doi:10.1007/s00705-017-3605-9)
  4. Rolling circle amplification to screen yam germplasm for badnavirus infections and to amplify and characterise novel badnavirus genomes. Bomer M, Turaki AA, Rathnayake AI, Silva G, Kumar PL, Seal SE. Bio-protocol, 2018 (
  5. Brassinosteroids participate in the control of basal and acquired freezing tolerance in plants. Eremina M, Unterholzner SJ, Rathnayake AI, Castello M, Khan M, Kugler KG, May ST, Mayer KF, Rozhon W, Poppenberger B. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A, 2016 October. 

Conference Presentation

  1. Characterisation of the complete genome sequence of a novel episomal yam badnavirus: Dioscorea bacilliform RT virus 3. Advances in plant virology, Jurys Inn, Birmingham, UK.12 – 13 April 2018 (Abstract accepted).
  2. Establishing the link between plant stress signalling and activatable endogenous pararetroviruses. Young Researchers in Crop Sciences, Rothamsted Research, Herts, UK. 11th July 2017.
  3. Studies on internal transcribed spacer sequences and RAPD in different commercial strains of Pleurotus nebrodensis. Asian mycological congress 2009 & 11th international marine and fresh water mycology symposium, National Museum of Natural Science. Taichung, Taiwan. 5-19 November 2009.

  Poster Publication

  1. Establishing the link between plant stress signalling and activatable endogenous pararetroviruses. NRI, Postgraduate Symposium, 19th May, 2016).
  2. Optimal Culture Conditions of four Pleurotus International meeting of the federation of Korean microbiological societies. October 22-23, 2009.
  3. Physiochemical effects on the mycelial growth of wild strains of Flammulina velutipes. Annual conference of Korean mycological society. 09th May 2009.
  4. Evaluation of antioxidant activity, polyphenol content and tyrosinase inhibitory effects of the Fomittela fraxinea fruiting body extracts. The Korean Mycological Society, May 2010.
Administrative & Other Activities within the University

Lecturer In-charge – August 2019 – to date.
Senate member – October 2019 – to date.
Student counsellor – FoT, RUSL – December 2019 – to date.
Member of RUSL Journal editorial board – December 2019 – to date.