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NER Biotechnology Programmes: Environmental Biotechnology

Though agriculture and healthcare are major areas of DBT’s projects in the North Eastern Region of India, there are substantial programmes and projects in other key areas as well, such as Environmental Biotechnology.

Environmental Biotechnology:

NER-BPMC (DBT) has constituted a network programme titled “Impact assessment of Jhumming on native plants and soil microbiota and restoration of sustainable Jhum agro-ecosystem in Northeast India” with implementing partners from NEHU, Shillong; CAU, Umiam; Mizoram University, Mizoram; Nagaland University, Medziphema, Nagaland; RARS, Diphu, Assam; Dept. of Biotechnology, AAU, ICAR-RC, Tripura & IBSD, Imphal. The project activities have been initiated at respective institutes.

Biodiversity conservation and utilisation

NER-BPMC of DBT has instituted another research network titled “Biotech Intervention on Selected Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAP) of NER for their effective utilisation” on four medicinal & aromatic plants (MAP) in October, 2011; this programme involves three partner institutions (a) AAU, Jorhat (Agric.) (b) AAU, Khanapara (Veterinary Campus and (c) NEIST, Jorhat (CSIR Institute) with the following objectives:

  • Taxonomical studies of four MAP Species (Acorus calamus, Clerodendrum indicum, Homalomaena aromatica, Piper Longum).
  • Isolation of bioactive phytochemical ingredients of medicinal value.
  • Evaluation of pharmacological activity of bioactive plant extracts /fractions.
  • Assessment of isolated drugs for possible adverse effects on metabolic system.
  • Development of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), large-scale production of planting material & Post Harvesting Technology.
Journey so far
  • Affected and standard treated groups showed better ulcer score and index as compared to the control groups in various models for antiulcer activity.
  • Among both the extracts (NST-GB-CL-I and HARZ-D), NST-GB-CL-I consistently showed better anti-ulcer activity in all the ulcer models. Quantitative estimation showed higher flavonoid & phenolic content in NST-GB-CL-I than HARZ-D which might be responsible for better anti ulcer activity in NST-GB-CL-I.
  • In vivo antioxidant study in ulcerated tissues of stomach and liver tissues demonstrated elevated levels of various non- enzymatic profiles in plant extract treated groups. NST-GB-CL-I, possesses better anti-oxidant properties than HARZ-D.
  • Various enzymatic activities of serum showed decrease level of SGOT, SGPT and alkaline phosphatase in extract treated as well as standard treated groups. NST-GB-CL-I, showed better activity than HARZ-D.
  • In anti-microbial activity, NST-GB-CL-II (50:50 hydro-ethanol) extract shows good activity as compared to other extracts.
  • For future study, bioassay guided fractionation of NST-GB-CL-I will be taken up.
Chemical Ecology of the NER of India:

DBT’s NER-BPMC is poised to launch a new collaborative and interdisciplinary programme in Chemical Ecology between institutions in NER and partners in Bangalore. A major focus of this integrated programme will be on the chemistry of interactions among plants, animals and microbes. Such interactions and their understanding will impact many fields of biology, including agriculture (through their influence on pollination, crop size, and pest borne diseases), medicine (e.g. understanding the chemical basis of traditional medicine or how insect disease-vectors identify their mammalian hosts) and biotechnology (designing strategies for better crops through facilitating pollination, pest and disease transmission control). This platform is expected to provide a strong stimulus to ongoing research in the NER, while building enduring research and training links between NER institutions such as IBSD-Imphal (Manipur), IBSD-Gangtok (Sikkim), NEHU-Shillong (Meghalaya), Rajiv Gandhi University-Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Nagaland State Science & Technology Council, Kohima (Nagaland), Mizoram University- Aizawl (Mizoram), Manipur University- Imphal (Manipur) and partner institutions in Bangalore such as NCBS, IISc, C-CAMP, etc. The program has the following unique characteristics:

  • The participating scientists/ PIs have a wide range of complementary and/or unique strengths in chemistry, agriculture, plant sciences, zoology, neuroscience, behavior and ecology.
  • The program will leverage opportunities in the North East states, which offer, unique natural resources and opportunities for field research that drive subsequent stages of Chemical Ecology research. It will include specific mechanisms to train and equip young scientists from the North East regions of India.
  • The programme will provide tailored interdisciplinary training to Ph.D. students and Chemical ecology postdoctoral fellows, each recruited to one of a very large number of collaborative projects offered by the participating PIs.
  • The goal of each project will be to demonstrate, understand and/or predictably manipulate the molecular and cellular basis of a well-defined phenomenon in Chemical Ecology.
  • As each project will be collaborative and multidisciplinary, the proposed organizational framework will ensure that the programme will develop the field of chemical ecology and create a new cadre of multidisciplinary scientists in the field.

In addition to building research capacity in the NER and the rest of India, the multidisciplinary nature of this programme also guarantees that it will considerably enhance the quality and international impact of each component discipline, all of which lie within the purview of the DBT. This platform will also provide a firm base for new innovative research projects or twinning programs involving NER and Bangalore PIs over the coming years.

Contact

Dr T Madhan Mohan, Adviser,
Department of Biotechnology,
Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi
Email: madhan[dot]dbt[at]nic[dot]in
Tel: 011-24362788