Kasthuri Venkateswaran


Office: 818.393.1481


Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran (Venkat) is the Senior Research Scientist at JPL and supports the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group. His 39+ years of research encompasses marine, food, and environmental microbiology. He has applied his research in molecular microbial analysis to better understand the ecological aspects of microbes, while conducting field studies in several extreme environments such as deep sea (2,500 m), spacecraft missions (Mars Exploration Rovers), assembly facility clean rooms, and the space environment in Earth orbit (ISS). Also, he provides expertise for non-NASA programs such as commercial agencies (Boeing – airline cabin air measurement) and medical industries (tissue and organ transplants processing). The bioinformatics databases generated by Venkat’s team are extremely useful in the development of biosensors which will provide information about the spacecraft surfaces and enclosed habitats in an attempt to determine forward contamination as well as develop countermeasures (advance cleaning and sterilization technologies) to control the problematic microbial species

Research Interests

  • Microbiology
  • Extremophiles
  • Molecular Microbiology

Professional Experience

1999-Present, Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

1998-1999, Senior Scientist, Astrobiology, California Institute of Technology

1996-1997, Senior Researcher, UW-Milwaukee· Systematically arranged phylogenetic affiliation of Shewanella.

1993-1996, Chief Scientist, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Japan

1990-1993, Senior Scientist, Marine Biotechnol. Inst., Min. Trade and Industry, Japan

1986-1990, Hiroshima University, Japan

1981-1986, Junior Scientific Assistant, Export Inspection Agency, Ministry of Commerce, India

1977-1981, Annamalai University, India


1990, Doctorate in Agriculture, Hiroshima University, Japan.

1982, Ph.D. Marine Microbiology, Annamalai University, India.

1977, M.S. Marine Biology, Annamalai University, India.

Selected Awards

One NASA Peer Award, 2005.

JPL Center – One NASA Peer Award, 2005.

NASA Space Act Award, 2003 & 2008.

Novel Technology Report Award (25), 2000 - present

Selected Publications

Benardini, James N., and K. Venkateswaran. “Application of the ATP assay to rapidly assess cleanliness of spacecraft surfaces: a path to set a standard for future missions.” AMB Express 6 (2016): 113.

Behar, Alberto, et al. "A deep-sea hydrothermal vent bio-sampler for large volume in situ filtration of hydrothermal vent fluids." Cahiers de biologie marine 47.4 (2006): 443.

Be, Nicholas A., A. Avila-Herrera, J. E. Allen, N. Singh, A. Checinska Sielaff, C. Jaing, and K. Venkateswaran. “Whole metagenome profiles of particulates collected from the International Space Station.” Microbiome (2017) 5: 111.

Blachowicz, Adriana, B. P. Knox, I. J. Romsdah, J.M. Palmer, A. Huttenlocher, C.C.C. Wang, N. P. Keller, and K. Venkateswaran. “Characterization of Aspergillus fumigatus isolated from air and surfaces of the International Space Station.” 13th European Conference on Fungal Genetics (April 3 – 6, 2016), Paris, France.

Blachowicz, Adriana, T. Mayer, M. Bashir, T. R. Pieber, P. De León, and K. Venkateswaran. “Human presence impacts fungal diversity of inflated lunar/Mars analog habitat.” Microbiome (2017) 5: 62.

Checinska Sielaff, Aleksandra, R. M. Kumar, D. Pal, S. Mayilraj, and K. Venkateswaran. “Solibacillus kalamii sp. nov., isolated from a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter system used in the International Space Station.” International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2017) 67:896-901.

Checinska Sielaff, Aleksandra, N. K. Singh, J. E. Allen, J. Thissen, C. Jaing, and K. Venkateswaran. “Draft Genome Sequences of Biosafety Level 2 Opportunistic Pathogens Isolated from the Environmental Surfaces of the International Space Station.” Genome Announcements vol 4 (2016): no. 6 e01263-16.

Dickinson, Danielle N., et al. "Species differentiation of a diverse suite of Bacillus spores by mass spectrometry-based protein profiling." Applied and environmental microbiology 70.1 (2004): 475-482.

Hendrickson, Ryan, P. Lundgren, G. B. Malli-Mohan, C. Urbaniak, J. N. Benardini, and K. Venkateswaran. 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems, ICES-2017-177 (2017), Charleston, South Carolina.

Kempf, Michael J., et al. "Recurrent isolation of hydrogen peroxide-resistant spores of Bacillus pumilus from a spacecraft assembly facility." Astrobiology5.3 (2005): 391-405.

Knox, Benjamin P., A. Blachowicz, J. M. Palmer, J. Romsdahl, A. Huttenlocher, C. C. C. Wang, N. P. Keller, and K. Venkateswaran. “Characterization of Aspergillus fumigatus Isolates from Air and Surfaces of the International Space Station.” mSphere 1(5) (2016): e00227 - 16.

La Duc, M. T., R. Kern, and K. Venkateswaran. "Microbial monitoring of spacecraft and associated environments." Microbial ecology 47.2 (2004): 150-158.

La Duc, Myron T., et al. "Evidence of pathogenic microbes in the International Space Station drinking water: reason for concern?" Habitation 10.1 (2004): 39-48.

La Duc, Myron T., et al. "gyrB as a phylogenetic discriminator for members of the Bacillus anthracis–cereus–thuringiensis group." Journal of Microbiological Methods 56.3 (2004): 383-394.

La Duc, Myron T., et al. "Isolation and characterization of bacteria capable of tolerating the extreme conditions of clean room environments." Applied and environmental microbiology 73.8 (2007): 2600-2611.

La Duc, Myron T., et al. "Microbial characterization of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and its encapsulation facility." Environmental microbiology 5.10 (2003): 977-985.

La Duc, Myron T., Tara Stuecker, and Kasthuri Venkateswaran. "Molecular bacterial diversity and bioburden of commercial airliner cabin air." Canadian journal of microbiology 53.11 (2007): 1259-1271.

Mahnert, Alexander, P. Vaishampayan, A. J. Probst, A. Auerbach, C. Moissl-Eichinger C, K. Venkateswaran, and G. Berg. “Cleanroom Maintenance Significantly Reduces Abundance but Not Diversity of Indoor Microbiomes.” PLoS One 10 (2015): e0134848.

Mayer, Teresa, A. Blachowicz, A. J. Probst, P. Vaishampayan, A. Checinska, T. Swarmer, P. de Leon, and K. Venkateswaran. “Microbial succession in an inflated lunar/Mars analog habitat during a 30-day human occupation.” Microbiome (2016) 4(22): 1-17.

Moissl, C., J. Bruckner, and K. Venkateswaran. "Archaeal community analysis of spacecraft assembly facilities." ISME J 2 (2008): 115-119.

Moissl, Christine, et al. "Molecular bacterial community analysis of clean rooms where spacecraft are assembled." FEMS microbiology ecology 61.3 (2007): 509-521.

Moissl, Christine, et al. "Molecular microbial community structure of the Regenerative Enclosed Life Support Module Simulator air system." International Journal of Astrobiology 6.02 (2007): 131-145.

Moissl-Eichinger, Christine, A. K. Auerbach, A. J. Probst, A. Mahnert, L. Tom, Y. Piceno, G. L. Andersen, K. Venkateswaran, P. Rettberg, and S. Barczyk. “Quo vadis? Microbial profiling revealed strong effects of cleanroom maintenance and routes of contamination in indoor environments.” Scientific Reports 5 (2015): 9156.

Newcombe, David A., et al. "Survival of spacecraft-associated microorganisms under simulated martian UV irradiation." Applied and environmental microbiology 71.12 (2005): 8147-8156.

Onofri, Silvano, J. P. de Vera, L. Zucconi, L. Selbmann, G. Scalzi, K. Venkateswaran, E. Rabbow, R. de la Torre, and G. Horneck. “Survival of Antarctic Cryptoendolithic Fungi in Simulated Martian Conditions On Board the International Space Station.” Astrobiology 15 (2015): 1052-1059

Osman, Shariff, et al. "Effect of shadowing on survival of bacteria under conditions simulating the Martian atmosphere and UV radiation." Applied and environmental microbiology 74.4 (2008): 959-970.

Osman, Shariff, et al. "Microbial burden and diversity of commercial airline cabin air during short and long durations of travel." The ISME journal 2.5 (2008): 482-497.

Schuerger, Andrew C., et al. "Rapid inactivation of seven Bacillus spp. under simulated Mars UV irradiation." Icarus 181.1 (2006): 52-62.

Seuylemezian, Arman, N. K. Singh, P. Vaishampayan, and K. Venkateswaran. “Draft Genome Sequence of Solibacillus kalamii, Isolated from an Air Filter Aboard the International Space Station.” Genome Announcements (2017) 5:e00696-00617.

Singh, Nitin K., A. Blachowicz, A. Checinska, C. Wang, and K. Venkateswaran. “Draft Genome Sequences of Two Aspergillus fumigatus Strains, Isolated from the International Space Station.” Genome Announc. (2016) 4(4): e00553-16.

Urbaniak, Camilla, A. Checinska Sielaff, K. G. Frey, J. E. Allen, N. Singh, C. Jaing, K. Wheeler, and K. Venkateswaran. “Detection of antimicrobial resistance genes associated with the International Space Station environmental surfaces.” Nature Scientific Reports 8 (2018): 814.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, A. Checinska Sielaff, S. Ratnayake, R. K. Pope, T. E. Blank, V. G. Stepanov, G. E. Fox, S. P. van Tongeren, C. Torres, J. Allen, C. Jaing, D. Pierson, J. Perry, S. Koren, A. Phillippy, J. Klubnik, T. J. Treangen, M. J. Rosovitz, and N. H. Bergman. “Draft Genome Sequences from a Novel Clade of Bacillus cereus Sensu Lato Strains, Isolated from the International Space Station.” Genome Announc. (2017) 5(32): e00680-17.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, N. K. Singh, A. Checinska Sielaff, R. K. Pope, N. H. Bergman, S. P. van Tongeren, N. B. Patel, P. A. Lawson, M. Satomi, C. H. D. Williamson, J. W. Sahl, P. Keim, D. Pierson, and J. Perry. “Non-Toxin-Producing Bacillus cereus Strains Belonging to the B. anthracis Clade Isolated from the International Space Station.” mSystems (2017) 2(3): e00021-17.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, et al. "ATP as a biomarker of viable microorganisms in clean-room facilities." Journal of Microbiological Methods52.3 (2003): 367-377.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, et al. "Evaluation of various cleaning methods to remove Bacillus spores from spacecraft hardware materials." Astrobiology4.3 (2004): 377-390.

Venkateswaran, Kasthuri, et al. "Molecular microbial diversity of a spacecraft assembly facility." Systematic and applied microbiology 24.2 (2001): 311-320.

CL#: 17-1953, 18-1585

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