Parag Vaishampayan

As a staff scientific I am providing support to a multifunctional, multidisciplinary, biotechnology–based laboratory. My major emphasis is on characterizing the microbial diversity of communities associated with spacecraft outbound from Earth and the clean-room facilities in which they are assembled. I have applied my scientific expertise and bioinformatics knowledge to decipher the microbial ecology of diverse and extreme environmental niches encompassing spacecraft assembly clean rooms, stratospheric air samples, high altitude caves, hydrothermal vents and human gut to name few. I am the main bioinformatician for our group at JPL for the generation and curation of a comprehensive sequence database. A significant advantage of this database is its application to industries and disciplines outside of astrobiology in particular, and NASA in general.

  • 2000-2005 - Ph. D, University of Pune, India
  • 1997-1999 - MS (Microbiology) Haffkine Research Institute, Mumbai University, India.
  • 1994-1997 - BS (Microbiology) Mumbai University, India.

Research Interests: 

Microbial ecology, Exobiology, bioinformatics, planetary protection, astrobiology and life in extreme environments.

Professional Experience: 

Current Position:

  • 2011 - Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA. CA.

    Previous Positions:

  • 2008- 2010 - Post doctoral fellow, California Institute of Technology, JPL. CA.
  • 2006 - 2007 - Post doctoral fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA.

    Professional Affiliations

  • Editorial Board Member of Journal of Microbial and Biochemical Technology and rDNA technology (RDT).
  • Member of American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Selected Publications: 

Selected Peer Reviewed Publications (out of >30):

  1. Vaishampayan, P., Probst, A. J., La Duc, M. T., Bargoma, E., Benardini, J. N., Andersen, G. L. & Venkateswaran, K. (2012). New perspectives on viable microbial communities in low-biomass cleanroom environments. The ISME journal.
  2. Vaishampayan, P. A., Rabbow, E., Horneck, G. & Venkateswaran, K. J. (2012). Survival of Bacillus pumilus Spores for a Prolonged Period of Time in Real Space Conditions. Astrobiology 12, 487-497.
  3. La Duc, M. T., Vaishampayan, P., Nilsson, H. R., Torok, T. & Venkateswaran, K. (2012). Pyrosequencing-Derived Bacterial, Archaeal, and Fungal Diversity of Spacecraft Hardware Destined for Mars. Applied and environmental microbiology.
  4. Horneck, G., Moeller, R., Cadet, J.& et al. (2012). Resistance of Bacterial Endospores to Outer Space for Planetary Protection Purposes-Experiment PROTECT of the EXPOSE-E Mission. Astrobiology 12, 445-456.
  5. Nicholson, W., Moeller, R. & et al. (2012) Transcriptomic responses of germinating Bacillus subtilis spores exposed to 1.5 years of space and simulated martian conditions on the EXPOSE-E experiment PROTECT. Astrobiology 12, 469-486.
  6. Bengtsson, J., Hartmann, M., Unterseher, M., Vaishampayan, P., Abarenkov, K., Durso, L., Bik, E.M., Garey, J.R., Eriksson, K.M., Nilsson, R.H. (2012) Megraft: a software package to graft ribosomal small subunit (16S/18S) fragments onto full-length sequences for accurate species richness and sequencing depth analysis in pyrosequencing-length metagenomes and similar environmental datasets. Research in Microbiology 163, 407-412.
  7. Zhu, D., Vaishampayan, P. A., Venkateswaran, K. & Fox, G. E. (2011). STITCH: algorithm to splice, trim, identify, track, and capture the uniqueness of 16S rRNAs sequence pairs using public or in-house database. Microbial ecology 61, 669-675.
  8. Benardini, J. N., Vaishampayan, P. A., Schwendner, P., Swanner, E., Fukui, Y., Osman, S., Satomi, M. & Venkateswaran, K. (2011). Paenibacillus phoenicis sp. nov., isolated from the Phoenix Lander assembly facility and a subsurface molybdenum mine. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 61, 1338-1343.
  9. de Vries, L. E., Valles, Y., Agerso, Y., Vaishampayan, P. A., Garcia-Montaner, A., Kuehl, J. V., Christensen, H., Barlow, M. & Francino, M. P. (2011). The gut as reservoir of antibiotic resistance: microbial diversity of tetracycline resistance in mother and infant. PLoS One 6, e21644.
  10. Hartmann, M., Howes, C. G., Veldre, V.& et al. (2011). V-REVCOMP: automated high-throughput detection of reverse complementary 16S rRNA gene sequences in large environmental and taxonomic datasets. FEMS Microbiol Lett 319, 140-145.
  11. Cooper, M., La Duc, M.T., Probst, A., Vaishampayan, P., Stam, C., Benardini, J.N., Piceno, Y.M., Andersen, G.L., & Venkateswaran, K. (2011) Comparison of innovative molecular approaches and standard spore assays for assessment of surface cleanliness. Applied and environmental microbiology 77, 5438-5444.
  12. Kwan, K., Cooper, M., La Duc, M. T., Vaishampayan, P., Stam, C., Benardini, J. N., Scalzi, G., Moissl-Eichinger, C. & Venkateswaran, K. (2011). Evaluation of procedures for the collection, processing, and analysis of biomolecules from low-biomass surfaces. Applied and environmental microbiology 77, 2943-2953.
  13. Vaishampayan, P. A., Kuehl, J. V., Froula, J. L., Morgan, J. L., Ochman, H. & Francino, M. P. (2010). Comparative metagenomics and population dynamics of the gut microbiota in mother and infant. Genome Biol Evol 2, 53-66.
  14. Ghosh, S., Osman, S., Vaishampayan, P. & Venkateswaran, K. (2010). Recurrent isolation of extremotolerant bacteria from the clean room where Phoenix spacecraft components were assembled. Astrobiology 10, 325-335.
  15. Probst, A., Vaishampayan, P., Osman, S., Moissl-Eichinger, C., Andersen, G. L. & Venkateswaran, K. (2010). Diversity of anaerobic microbes in spacecraft assembly clean rooms. Applied and environmental microbiology 76, 2837-2845.
  16. Rastogi, G., Osman, S., Kukkadapu, R., Engelhard, M., Vaishampayan, P. A., Andersen, G. L. & Sani, R. K. (2010). Microbial and mineralogical characterizations of soils collected from the deep biosphere of the former Homestake gold mine, South Dakota. Microbial ecology 60, 539-550.
  17. Rastogi, G., Osman, S., Vaishampayan, P.A., Andersen. G.L., Stetler, L.D., Sani, R.K. (2010) Microbial diversity in uranium mining-impacted soils as revealed by high-density 16S microarray and clone library. Microbial Ecology 59, 94-108.
  18. Vaishampayan, P., Osman, S., Andersen, G. & Venkateswaran, K. (2010). High-density 16S microarray and clone library-based microbial community composition of the Phoenix spacecraft assembly clean room. Astrobiology. 10, 499-508.
  19. Vaishampayan, P., Probst, A., Krishnamurthi, S., Ghosh, S., Osman, S., McDowall, A., Ruckmani, A., Mayilraj, S. & Venkateswaran, K. (2010). Bacillus horneckiae sp. nov., isolated from a spacecraft-assembly clean room. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 60, 1031-1037.
  20. La Duc, M. T., Osman, S., Vaishampayan, P., Piceno, Y., Andersen, G., Spry, J. A. & Venkateswaran, K. (2009). Comprehensive census of bacteria in clean rooms by using DNA microarray and cloning methods. Applied and environmental microbiology 75, 6559-6567.
  21. Shivaji, S., Chaturvedi, P., Begum, Z.& et al. (2009). Janibacter hoylei sp. nov., Bacillus isronensis sp. nov. and Bacillus aryabhattai sp. nov., isolated from cryotubes used for collecting air from the upper atmosphere. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 59, 2977-2986.
  22. Vaishampayan, P.A., Miyashita, M., Ohnishi, A., Satomi, M., Rooney, A., La Duc, MT., & Venkateswaran, K. (2009) Description of Rummeliibacillus stabekisii gen. nov., sp. nov. and reclassification of Bacillus pycnus Nakamura et al. 2002 as Rummeliibacillus pycnus comb. Nov International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 59, 1094-1099
  23. Newcombe, D. A., LaDuc, M. T., Vaishampayan, P. & Venkateswaran, K. (2008). Impact of assembly, testing, and launch operations on the airborne bacterial diversity within a spacecraft assembly facility clean-room. Intern J Astrobiol 7, 223-236.
  24. Vaishampayan, P.A., Dhotre, D.P., Gupta, R.P., Lalwani, P., Ghate, H., Patole, M.S., Shouche, Y.S. (2007) Molecular evidence and phylogenetic affiliations of Wolbachia in cockroaches. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 44. 1346-1351.
  25. Vaishampayan, P., Kanekar, P., & Dhakephalkar, P. (2007) Isolation and characterization of Arthrobacter sp. strain MCM B-436, an Atrazine degrading bacterium, from rhizospheric soil. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, 60, 273-278.


Book Chapter:


  1. Parag Vaishampayan, James N. Benardini, Myron T. La Duc, and Kasthuri Venkateswaran (2010) Microbial persistence in low-biomass, extreme environments: the great unknown. Handbook of Molecular Microbial Ecology I: Metagenomics and Complementary Approaches. Wiley publisher. Editor Frans de Bruijn




  1. Provisional patent: Deinococcus Phoenicis sp. nov. A Extreme Ionizing Radiation Resistant Bacterium Isolated from the Phoenix Lander Assembly Facility (CIT-5945-P)


Lectures /Presentations:


  1. Invited talk at Cal Poly Pomona for RISE program, funded by NIH on July 16, 2010.
  2. Invited talk at SCAS Microbiology Symposium 2010 at Cal State LA, on May 7, 2010.
  3. Planetary Protection and Forward Contamination (2010) invited lecture at Northern Kentucky University.
  4. Microbial Genetics and Microbial growth control (MIC201) lectures for under graduate students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 2009
  5. Parag Vaishampayan, Kasthuri Venkateswaran: Predictive Risk Assessment of Spacecraft Contamination with Computational Analysis. American Society for Microbiology general meeting 2009.
  6. Parag Vaishampayan, J. Froula, Jenna Morgan, Howard Ochman, M. Pillar Francino. Characterization of large-insert DNA libraries for comparative community genomics of the human gut microbiota. Lake Arrowhead, California USA. 2006
  7. Parag Vaishampayan, P.P.Kanekar and S.S.Sarnaik: Rhizodegradation of herbicide atrazine by Vetiver plant. COST ACTION 837 workshop on Achievement and Prospects of Phytoremedaition in Europe, Vienna, Austria. 2003
  8. Vaishampayan Parag, Kanekar Pradnya and Mhasawade Manasi. ‘Phytoremedaition of atrazine contaminated water using aquatic plants’ 12th International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Symposium Prague, Czech Republic. 2002
  9. Parag Vaishampayan, Pradnya Kanekar and S.S.Sarnaik. 'Bioremediation of atrazine from soil'. Cost action 837 Grenoble, France, 2001.
Parag Vaishampayan
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91109
Phone: 818.393.7025
Fax Number: 818.393.4176