Janaki Ammal Biography
Born In: Thalassery
Janaki Ammal Edavaleth Kakkat was an Indian botanist best remembered for her work on sugarcane and eggplant. An expert in cytogenetics (the genetic content and expression of genes in the cell), she conducted research on chromosome numbers and ploidy in a variety of garden plants while she was in England which led to new findings on the evolution of species and varieties. Her research played a vital role in understanding the nature of polyploidy in sugarcane and helped in choosing plant varieties for cross-breeding in order to produce the sweetest sugarcane. Born in late 19th century in Kerala, India, Ammal was encouraged to pursue her intellectual interests from a young age. Unlike in many other Indian families of those times where girls were not provided any opportunity for self-development, her family supported her from the very beginning. She developed an early interest in botany and studied the subject at Queen Mary's College and Presidency College. Eventually she realized her interest in cytogenetics and went to the University of Michigan, U.S. for her higher studies. She returned to India after completing her studies and after working as a professor for some time, she joined the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, as a geneticist. A very determined woman, she never married and dedicated her entire life to scientific pursuits.