Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan

Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan, Director of Cocoa Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Cocoa Research Centre

The University of the West Indies

St. Augustine, Trinidad.

Tel: (868) 662 2002 Ext. 82114

Fax: (868) 662 8788



Pathmanathan Umaharan joined the teaching staff of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in August 1991.  He lectured a variety of courses including General Genetics, Advanced Genetics, Plant Breeding, Evolution, Biotechnology and Molecular Biology. He was later promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1999 and then Professor of Genetics in May 2008. During that time, he graduated 16 PhD students and 9 MPhil students. On March 1st 2010, Professor Umaharan assumed duties as the Director of The UWI Cocoa Research Centre.


As Director, Professor Umaharan is responsible for policy, strategic direction and governance of the Cocoa Research Centre, in addition to curation of the genebank and outreach.

Area of expertise

Professor Umaharan is an expert in plant genetic resources management, genetic analysis and crop improvement. He has worked with several crops including cocoa, anthurium, hot pepper, tomato, cowpea, and pigeon pea, specifically with respect to genetic resistance to pest and diseases, yield and yield components as well as quality traits. His other areas of interest include biotechnology and biosafety, where he serves on regional advisory panels and groups.

His current research interests are centered around understanding host-pathogen interactions and genetics of resistance in cocoa and anthurium; genetic resource management in cacao and hot pepper as well as biotechnological approaches to improving the colour range in anthurium.


  1. 2012/2013 UWI Vice Chancellor award for excellence in Category II for Research Accomplishments.
  2. 2012 Visionary Innovator (National Award) – Intellectual Property Office, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  3. 2012 World Intellectual Property Organisation – WIPO Award for Best Inventor.
  4. 2012 Best Research Team (Plant Genetics/ Biotechnology) encouraging Multidisciplinary Research, Research Awards Ceremony – “Celebrating Excellence in Research” The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
  5. 2012 Campus Award for the Most Impacting Research Project - Improving the Competitiveness of the Anthurium Industry” Research Awards Ceremony - “Celebrating Excellence in Research” The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.
  6. 2008 60 under 60 Award –– The Vice-chancellor’s award for the best 60 academics under 60 at the University of the West Indies.

Research Grants

  1. Perez Guerrero Trust Fund (2013). Regional cocoa development (US $37,000.00)
  2. The UWI - RDI (2013). Member of research group - 1. Development of a competitive anthurium industry in Trinidad and Tobago. 2. Creating a vibrant and sustainable hot pepper industry in Trinidad and Tobago (TT $2.6 million)
  3. The UWI - RDI (2012). Principal Investigator - Leveraging the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad to improve Competiveness of the Cocoa Sector in the Caribbean using modern genomics (TT $1.5 million)
  4. Research and Publication Fund (2010).  Heterosis studies on Hot pepper (TT $34,000.00)
  5. Perez Guerrero Trust Fund (2009). Market Development for Anthurium. (US $35,000.00)
  6. Government of Trinidad and Tobago Research Grant (2007). Principal Investigator - Development of a competitive anthurium industry through the development of novel bloom colours and nematode resistance. (TT $450,000.00).
  7. Research and Publication Fund Award (2006) – Molecular biology of flavonoid pathway (TT$ 21,000.00)
  8. Research and Publication Grant, (2003). CRP.3DW: Genetics of resistance to Crinipellis perniciosa (Stahel) singer in cacao (Theobroma cacao). (TT $18,000.00)
  9. Research and Publication Grant, (2003). Genetic transformation of Anthurium cultivars for colour modification using the flavonoid biosynthetic genes. (TT $18,000.00
  10. EU-BETOCARIB Award (2003) Member of research group - Begomoviruses - Bemisia complex in tomato. (€80,000.00)
  11. OAS Grant (2001) Genetic diversity of forest and medicinal plant species (US $20,000.00)
  12. EUFORUM GRANT (CARTF) (2000) Principal Investigator - Genetic improvement of Anthurium adapted to the Caribbean (US $50,000.00)


Currently Professor Umaharan is not involved in undergraduate teaching but supervises 8 MPhil students and 4 PhD students as follows. Students are encouraged to contact him if they wish to pursue programmes of study.

PhD thesis

Motilal, L.: Association mapping of butter fat content, resistance to witches' broom disease and selected morphological traits in a Refractario population of Theobroma cacao. (With Dr. Dapeng Zhang, USDA)

Joseph, A.: Morpho-physiological selection criteria for biological nitrogen fixation in pigeonpea. (with Dr. Ramsubhag)

Gopaulchan, D.: Molecular biology of the flavonoid pathway in Anthurium andreanum (Hort) leading to anthocyanins towards understanding the role of two regulatory genes.

Sankar, A.: Molecular characterisation of the LCTEEN collection of cocoa accessions and a population genetic study of cacao. (with Dr. Lennon and Dr. Zhang)

M.Phil thesis

Ramjattan, R.: A genetic study of selected yield components in Capsicum chinense towards improving pod quality (upgrading to PhD.)

Khalil, A.: A study of heterosis for vegetative vigour, yield and fruit quality in Capsicum chinense L. (with Dr. R.A.I. Brathwaite - upgrading to PhD.)

Lewis, C.: The effect of genotype on cadmium bioaccumulation in cocoa and mechanism of uptake. (with Dr. A. Lennon)

Moustache, R.: Molecular markers for yield components in hot pepper.

Avila-Rostant, O.: Studies on the molecular control mechanisms in Anthurium andraeanum with various spathe colours.

Walker, J.: Effect of PYMV on tomato yield and quality in 22 varieties of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum.)

Lai, A.: Molecular characterization of the putative aurone biosynthetic pathway in anthurium towards bioengineering yellows. (with Dr. A. Lennon)


Selected publications

Professor Umaharan has over 80 referred publications.  Some recent publications include:

  1. Motilal, L.A, Zhang, D., M., Mischke, A., Meinhardt, L.W and Umaharan (2013). Pedigree structure of population of Theobroma cacao revealed by molecular analysis. Tree Genetics and Genomes (in press)
  2. Moses, M. and Umaharan, P. (2012). Genetic Structure and Phylogenetic Relationships of Capiscum chinense in the Neotropics. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. July 2012 137:250-262.
  3. Allegre, M., Argout, X., Boccara, M., Fouet,O.,  Roguet, Y.,  Be´rard, A., Thevenin, J.M., Chauveau,A., Rivalla,R., Clement,D., Courtois, B., Gramacho, K., Boland-Auge, A.,  Tahi, M., Umaharan, P.,  Brunel,D., and Lanaud, C. (2012).  Discovery and mapping of a new expressed sequence tag-single nucleotide polymorphism and simple sequence repeat panel for large-scale genetic studies and breeding of Theobroma cacao L. DNA Research 19(1): 23-35.  First published online December 30, 2011 doi:10.1093/dnares/dsr039
  4. Motilal, L., Zhang, D., Umaharan,P., Mischke, B.S., Pinney, S.M., Meinhardt, L.W. (2011). Microsatellite fingerprinting in the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad: Accession and plot homogeneity information for germplasm management. Plant Genetic Resources. 9:430-438.
  5. Elibox, W. and Umaharan, P. (2010). Inheritance of resistance to foliar infection by Xanthomonas campestris pv dieffenbachiae in anthurium.  Plant Disease 94 (10): 1243-1257.
  6. Avila-Rostant, O, Lennon, A.M. and Umaharan, P. (2010). Spathe Color Variation in Anthurium andraeanum Hort. and Its Relationship to Vacuolar pH. HortScience 45(12):1768–1772.
  7. Beekham, A and Umaharan, P. (2010). Inheritance and combining ability studies of pod physical and biochemical quality traits in vegetable pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp). Euphytica 176 (1): 37-47
  8. Motilal, L., Zhang, D., Umaharan, P., Mischke, B.S., Mooleedhar, V., Meinhardt, L.W. (2010). The relic Criollo cacao in Belize - genetic diversity and relationship with Trinitario and other cacao clones held in the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization. Plant Genetic Resources 8: 106-115
  9. Zhang, D., Boccara, M., Motilal, L., Butler, D.R., Umaharan, P., Mischke. S. and Meihardt.,L. (2008). Microsatellite variation and population structure in the "Refractario" cacao of Ecuador. Conservation Genetics 9 (2): 327-337     doi. 10.1007/s10592-007-9345-8
  10. Surujdeo-Maharaj, S., Umaharan, P., Butler, D.R. (2004).  Assessment of resistance to witches’ broom disease in clonal and segregating populations of Theobroma cacao. Plant Disease 88 (8):797-803.

Selected presentations

He has also presented in international forums most recently in:

Umaharan, P. (2012). Cacao germplasm resources and their use in the genomics era. Plant and Animal Genome Conference XX. San Diego, California.

Umaharan, P. (2011).  Improving Food Quality through Biotechnology: Examples from African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP). Applying Biotechnology for ending world hunger. Madrid, Spain.

TED talks. The Caribbean story.


Public Service

Professor Umaharan also serves on many national, regional and international committees such as:

Governmental Committees

  1. Chairman, AD HOC committee to advice the Minister of Legal Affairs on the Selection of Genera and Species to be listed pursuant to Section-8 of the New Plant Varieties Act, 1997. (Appointed September, 2008; Reappointed December, 2010).
  2. Board of Director (Caribbean Industrial Research Institute) CARIRI (Appointed November, 2010.)
  3. Member of the Biosafety Clearing House Task Force, EMA (Appointed Sept, 2008)
  4. Member of the Cabinet-appointed National Biosafety Committee, T&T (Member since 2000).
  5. Member, National Coordinating Committee for the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol
  6. Member, National Committee for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) (Expired).
  7. Member, National Procicaribe Steering Committee (Expired)

Regional Committees:

  1. Member, CARICOM appointed Committee on Biotechnology and Biosafety
  2. Member, Consultative group for Agricultural Biotechnology –IICA (Expired)
  3. Member, Regional Biotechnology Forum- coordinated by SRC, Jamaica.         
  4. Member, Caribbean Plant Genetic Resources Network (CAPGERNET)
  5. Associate member of the Regional Hotpepper Association
  6. Member of the Caribbean Anthurium Industry Development Association

International Committees:

  1. Technical committee CACONet
  2. Co-Governor, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Trieste, Italy) Trinidad and Tobago representative (Expired)
  3. Member of the Hemispheric task force on Biotechnology, IICA. (Expired)
  4. Member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment (Montreal, CA). Trinidad and Tobago representative. (Expired)
  5. Member, Editorial Board, Tropical Agriculture (Expired)