Home > About > Faculty Profiles > Bertrand B. Hankoua, PhD

Bertrand B. Hankoua, PhD

Bertrand B. Hankoua, Ph.DAssistant Professor of Natural Products and Biotechnology
College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology (CAST)
Food Science and Biotechnology Program
Human Ecology Department
1200 N. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901 

Office: Room 16 and Room 108, Baker Building
Labs: Room 111 and Room 17, Baker Building
Email: bhankoua [at] desu.edu
Phone: 302.857.7935; 302.857.6467

Areas of Expertise, Research and Activities

My research program will integrate transformative advances in advances in synthetic biology, systems biology, computational biology, metabolic modeling, genome editing, crop bioengineering to: 1) dramatically increase cell wall degradability of dedicated feedstocks with the aim to dramatically reduce the cost of converting dedicated feedstocks such as Miscanthus x giganteus, switchgrass, poplar etc. biomass to biofuels and biochemicals; 2) Increase the speed and reduce the cost for producing costly natural drugs such cancer drugs (eg, taxol), malaria medicine (arteminsinin), diabetic (insulin), growth factor (interferon) in bacterial, algae and pant cells and tissue and whole plants; 3) Phytochemistry investigation of natural remedies with proven health benefit for isolating and  pharmacological evaluation of novel natural drugs. 4)Establish a set of novel molecular tools, including recombinant DNA, metabolomics, proteomic, and in situ analyzing tools for plant biotechnology that will be shared with the scientific community.

  • Deconstruction of cell wall polymers in planta by expressing lignin-degrading and cellulose genes in model plant and energy grasses
  • Gene stacking for nutritional enhancement, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in staple crops
  • Phytochemistry of natural products
  • Biological variation in natural products
  • Application of Research techniques in natural products
  • Cultivation and Preparation of Natural Drugs
  • Commercial in vitro propagation of staples, and specialty crops and perennial grasses
  • Establish non-GMO genetic systems for improvement of staples, and specialty crops and perennial grasses
  • Product pipeline development through transgenic technology
  • Constructing and expressing large operons, and multigene CRISPR/Cas9 ablation in plant system for crop improvement
  • Biopharmaceuticals production via molecular techniques
  • Capacity development in plant biotechnology in Africa
  • Train a new cadre of undergraduate students, summer interns, and postdoctoral scientists in biofuel research, recombinant DNA manipulations, metabolic engineering for bio-based and biopharmaceuticals production and thermophile research


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) (1999 - 2003)
    University of Ibadan, Department of Crop Protection and Environmental Biology, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) Switzerland: Joint-PhD in Genetics and Plant Biotechnology, Swiss Government/Swiss Center for International Agriculture (ZIL)
  • PhD Fellow (1999 - 2003)
  • UNESCO-BAC Fellow (2000),
  • IITA/GCIAR Fellow (World Bank)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (1993 - 1997)
    Obafemi Awolowo University, College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacognosy
    Specialization: Biotechnology, Natural Product Chemistry, Micropropagation, and phytochemistry of secondary metabolites in cultured cells and tissues
  • Technical Science Fellow, Organization of the African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU)
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.) (1991 - 1993)
    University of Yaounde 1, College of Sciences, Department of Plant Biology and Physiology
    Specialization: Bioscience, Plant Tissue Culture -Micropropagation of Dioscorea
  • Bachelor of Science, Honors (B.Sc., Hons.) (1988 - 1991)
    University of Yaounde 1, College of Sciences, Department of Plant Biology and Physiology
    Specialization: Botany and Plant Physiology

Research and Professional Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Delaware State University, 2021 – present
  • Research Faculty/Sr. Research Scientist, Delaware State University, 2008 – 2021
  • Faculty Research Associate, Delaware State University, 2005 – 2008
  • Assistant Plant Biologist, DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition, 2008
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 2003 – 2005
  • Visiting Scientist, Danforth Plant Center/University of Missouri, 2001
  • Visiting Scientist, University of Georgia, 2012
  • Visiting Faculty, DOE VFP Award, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Colorado, summer 2014
  • Visiting Faculty, DOE VFP Award, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tennessee, summer 2015
  • Visiting Faculty, DOE VFP Award, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tennessee, summer 2016
  • Technical Science Fellow, Organization of the African Unity (OAU), 1993-1996
  • UNESCO-BAC Fellow University of Missouri, (2000)
  • Visiting Scientist, Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), Department of Chemistry, University of Kentucky (2021)


Molecular Application in Food Science (HMEC-501), Graduate Level Course, 2008-

SYNERGISTIC ACTIVITIES and Global engagement

  • Principal Reviewer: Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture; African Journal of Biotechnology, Plant Physiology, Nature- Scientific Reports, Nature Communications
  • Review Panel, USDA CSREES NRI 71.2, Bio-based Products and Bioenergy Aug. 2009.
  • Review Panel, USDA CSREES NRI Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Ad-hoc Feb. 2010
  • Review Panel, USDA NIFA 1890 Capacity Building Grant (CBG), May 2011
  • Review Panel, USDA NIFA Lignin - Nano-cellulosic co-products from Biomass Feedstocks, October 2017
  • Review Panel, Technical Review Committee, Delaware Bioscience Center for Advanced Technology (CAT), State of Delaware, November 2020
  • Moraft Corporation, Program Organizing Committee/Board Member: https://moraft.com/biotechnology-and-bioinformatics-2020/program-committee. Moraft is an international scientific conference-organizing group involved in promoting the global current research through high profile conferences.


  • Member, Pharmacognosy Society of Nigeria Life Member
  • Nigerian Society of Experimental Biology 1998-
  • Member, International Association of Research Fellows and Scholars, 1996-
  • Member, Cameroon Research Forum 2000-
  • Member, Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century 2002-
  • Member, World’s Advanced Cassava Genetic Transformation Group 2002-
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Panel on the Development of a Protocol for Doubled-Haploids and their Use in Breeding 2002-
  • Member,Public Research Forum on Biosafety Regulation The Netherlands,2004-
  • Member, Partnership to Cut Hunger in Africa, Washington DC, USA 2004-
  • Member, American Association of Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). 2006-
  • Member, American Association of Plant Biologists 2006-
  • Member, In vitro Society 2006-
  • Member, National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing 2017-
  • Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL)
  • Member, American Society for Horticultural Science 2018


Patent Issued by the United State Patent and Trade Office, October 2021
Novel in vitro System for Rapid, Efficient, Robust, and Cost-Effective Mass Propagation of Miscanthus × Giganteus; USPTO’s Patent number: 11154023; https://uspto.report/patent/grant/11,154,023

Recent Publications

  1. Ayalew Ligaba-Osena1* Wanli Guo1,2†, Sang Chul Choi1, Matthew Alan Limmer3, Angelia L. Seyfferth3 and Bertrand B. Hankoua* (2020) Silicon Enhances Biomass and Grain Yield in an Ancient Crop Tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter. Front. Plant Sci., | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.608503
  2. Ayalew Ligaba-Osena, Kay DiMarco, Michael J. Axtell, Tom L. Richard, Bertrand Hankoua* (2019) The maize Corngrass1 miRNA-regulated developmental changes are restored by co-expressing the E. coli AGPase in transgenic tobacco: International Journal of Genomics: https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8581258
  3. Kyle Sander, Meredith Yeary, Kristina Mahan, Jason Whitham, Richard Giannone, Steven D. Brown, MiguelRodriguez,David Graham, Bertrand Hankoua* (2019) Expression of Benzoyl-CoA Metabolism Genes in the Lignocellulolytic Host Caldicellulosiruptor bescii: AMB Express: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13568-019-0783-8
  4. Ayalew Ligaba-Osena, Bertrand Hankoua*, Kay DiMarco, Robert Pace, Mark Crocker, Jesse McAtee, Nivedita Nagachar, Ming Tien, Tom L. Richard (2017) Reducing biomass recalcitrance by expressing a Rhodococcus jostii ligninperoxidase in transgenic tobacco. Nature-Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 17104: doi:10.1038/s41598-017-16909-x
  5. Ayalew Ligaba-Osena, Jenna Jones, Emmanuel Donkor, Sanjeev Chandrayan, Farris Pole, Chang-HaoWu, Claire Vieille, Michael W. W. Adams and Bertrand Hankoua* (2018) Novel bioengineered cassava expressing an archaeal starch degradation system and a bacterial ADP-glucose pyro phosphorylase for starch self-digestibility and yield increase Front. Plant Sci., | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00192
  6. Njock TE, Hankoua B, Padmanabhan C, Fauquet CM (2012) Resistance evaluation of African Manihot landraces gene-gun inoculated with African cassava mosaic virus-Cameroon. J. of Agriculture and Biological Sciences Vol (3) (2).271 –277.
  7. Hankoua, B.B*., Ng, S.Y.C., Puonti-Kaerlas, J., Fawole, I., Dixon, A.G.O and Pillay, M. (2005) Regeneration of a wide range of African cassava genotypes via shoot organogenesis from cotyledon of maturing somatic embryos and conformity of the field-established regenerants. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (82) (2) 221-231.
  8. Hankoua, B.B*., Taylor, N.J., Ng, S.Y.C; Fawole, I, Puonti-Kaerlas, J., P. Chellappan, A.G.O. Dixon, Fauquet,C.M., V. Fondong; (2006) Production of The First Transgenic Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) Plants in Africa via direct shoot organogenesis of friable embryoids and germination of maturing somatic embryos. African Journal of Biotechnology (5) (19). 1700-1712.
  9. Fondong VN, Chowda RVR, Lu C, Hankoua B, Felton C, Czymmek K, Achenjang F (2007) The consensus N-myristoylation motif of a Gemini virus AC4 protein is required for membrane binding and pathogenicity. Molecular Plant Microbe-Interactions 20 (4): 380- 391.
  10. Gbolade, A, A., Hankoua, B.B., Erhun, W.O., Ng, S.Y.C (2003) Callus induction and morphogenesis of Dioscorea dumetorum for steroid production. Nigerian Journal of Natural Products and Medicine 7 (5-9)
  11. B. Hankoua*; A. Mbanaso; R. Banda; and C. Fauquet; N. Taylor (2007) Enhancement of friable embryogenic callus production and plant recovery by tyrosine in a range of agronomically important West African cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) landraces. In Vitro Cellular Developmental Biology (2007) Volume: 43, Pages: S48-S49
  12. Samuel Ayuk Besong1, Celestine Nke Fossung1,2, Ayasha S Jones3, Vincent Fondong3 and Bertrand Hankoua (2010) Evaluate the effects of Njangsa Oil Seeds on Lipid Metabolism and Expression of Stearoyl-Coenzyme A Desaturase in Laying Hens. The Faseb Journal 24:
  13. Effect of African melon seed on expression of apolipoprotein b and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein encoded genes in laying hens (2007) Samuel Ayuk Besong, Bertrand Hankoua, Chowda – Reddy Venkatarayappa and Vincent N Fondong. The Faseb Journal 21
  14. Hankoua BB (2003) Regeneration and transformation of African cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) germplasm. PhD dissertation (P.197). University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), Institute of Plant Sciences/Plant Biotechnology, Zurich, Swizerland