RESEARCH

Interdisciplinary research in the frontline areas of Plant Genetics, Molecular Breeding and Biotechnology, Human Genetics, Drosophila Genetics, yeast Genetics, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Cancer Genetics, RNAi technology, Developmental Genetics and Molecular Biology are being carried out in the department. Since inception, over 200 original research papers has been published in highly reputed, peer reviewed International and National Scientific Journals. Some of the major research achievements include generation of different bi-parental mapping populations (RILs/DH) for genome and gene mapping in mustard; characterization of bacteriocin and genetic basis of heavy-metal tolerance in bacteria; development of several RNAi & artificial microRNA based transgenic strategies for the control of viral and fungal pathogens, and insect pests in crops; developed strategies to optimize transgene expression in plants by targeting transcriptional as well as post-transcriptional processes; discovery of new genes for mental retardation, Rheumatoid arthritis and Ulcerative colitis by genome-wide analysis of Indian populations, finding the genetic determinants underlying differential drug response in Rheumatoid arthritis and novel  variants conferring risk in Celiac disease; characterization of molecular and cellular changes in the hypoxic tumour microenvironment; discoveries on the novel role of Myc proto-oncogenes in suppression of human poly(Q) induced neurodegeneration in Drosophila disease models. In addition, interesting insights are emerging out in areas of yeast and Dictyostelium genetics.

Major research findings of the Department
 
Prof. Deepak Pental and Prof. A. K. Pradhan’s lab has developed several genomic resources – 8 different bi-parental mapping populations (RILs/DH) for genome and gene mapping in mustard. They have also constructed high-density molecular map (consisting of > 3500 markers) in mustard, and developed the SNP-maps in B. rapa and B. juncea through the use of NGS-based RNA data. Further, the use of SNP markers for saturation mapping of several genomic regions harbouring genes related to yield and quality in mustard and the identification of candidate gene(s) for some important traits in mustard was also done.
 
Prof. M. V. Rajam’s lab has developed several novel strategies, based on RNAi and artificial microRNA, for the control of viral and fungal pathogens, and insect pests in crops. They have demonstrated that engineered polyamine accumulation can confer abiotic stress tolerance in plants and that the polyamines are important determinants of plant regeneration and transformation. They have also developed improved regeneration and Agrobacterium-mediated transformation protocols for important crops and  Chlamydomonas (first report), and generated a battery of transgenic crops for stress tolerance, delayed ripening and other agronomic traits.
 
Prof. B. K. Thelma’s lab has discovered new genes for mental retardation, Rheumatoid arthritis and Ulcerative colitis by genome-wide analysis of Indian populations; identified genetic determinants underlying differential drug response in Rheumatoid arthritis using genetic and computational tools and novel  variants conferring risk in Celiac disease. They have demonstrated the potential application of  ‘Ayurgenomics’ as a novel approach of combining Ayurveda with Genomics to address the clinical heterogeneity in common complex disorders such as Rheumatoid arthritis. Functional characterization of variants in the dopaminergic pathway genes with implications for lead molecule development/ translational medicine has been achieved.
 
Prof. P. K. Burma’s lab has developed strategies to optimize transgene expression in plants by targeting transcriptional as well as post-transcriptional processes. They have identified and synthesized novel promoters for both constitutive and tissue specific expression. They have also demonstrated that accumulation of high levels of Cry1Ac protein was detrimental to plant regeneration and development.
 
Dr. Surajit Sarkar’s lab has demonstrated for the first time that targeted over-expression of dMyc (a homologue of human cMyc proto-oncogene) could potentially suppresses human poly(Q) induced neurodegeneration and cellular toxicity in Drosophila disease models. It was further established that dMyc mediated suppression of human poly(Q) toxicity is achieved by alleviating the cellular level of CREB-Binding Proteins (CBP) and improved histone acetylation, resulting restoration of transcriptional machinery which are otherwise abbreviated due to poly(Q) disease conditions. These novel finding could potentially help in designing novel therapeutic approach to suppress some fatal human neurodegenerative disorders.
 
Dr. Jagreet Kaur’s lab is working on understanding the molecular mechanism underlying plant resistance /susceptibility to necrotrophic fungal pathogens. In collaboration with Dr. Pravindra Kumar from IIT Roorkee and Dr. S Kundu (Dept. of Biochemistry) they have reported the first crystal structure of Arabidopsis non-symbiotic globin 1 (AHb1) and are attempting to address its role in disease resistance in planta.
 
Dr. Aruna Naorem’s lab is involved in elucidating the role of bZIP transcription factors, Parvulin type PPIases, PinA and other protein regulators during growth and development in a model organism, Dictyostelium discoideum. Dr. Naorem’s group report that BzpG, a bZIP transcription factor, may have an essential function in regulating important genes necessary for growth and development. Further, PinA function is required for growth as well as cell type-specific gene marker expression during development.

Dr. Tapasya Srivastava’s lab has been working on molecular and cellular changes which occur in the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. They are establishing that the potency of small molecule inhibitors and plant-derived potential chemotherapeutic agents effective in the hypoxic microenvironment, hold tremendous potential in assisting the standard treatment of solid tumors. 
 
Dr. Kaustuv’s lab involved in deciphering the role of auxillary factors involved in mitochondrial ribosome biogenesis in Saccharomycescerevisiae.

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