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About the Programme

The focus of the Biotechnology program is to undertake anticipatory and strategic research in response to severe environmental degradation, changing climate scenarios, such as sea level rise, reduced precipitation and deteriorating soil and water quality, and develop relevant products. This is achieved through utilizing state of the art technologies particularly genomics, proteomics and molecular breeding tools. The major activities of the program, therefore, has focused on understanding genetic and genomic architecture of naturally stress tolerant species, and employing them for developing location specific varieties for abiotic stress tolerance. The program also focuses on bioprospecting for novel genes, compounds and organisms (microbes) from untapped and unique niche specific biological resources, tissue culture of key plants like RET and mangroves, research on monitoring ecosystem health using lichens and soil health using microbial diversity. An outreach activity for school students and rural communities to promote awareness on genetic literacy, biodiversity conservation forms an integral component of the program.

What We Do

Molecular Biology

  • Transformation of PcHKT 1,5 into indica rice and evaluation of same for salinity tolerance
  • Study of salt tolerance mechanisms in halophytes like P. coarctata, Sesuvium portulacastrum, Suaeda nudiflora etc. and the effect of elevated CO2 levels on these species to understand plant responses to climate change
  • Transcriptome approach to identify genes involved in salinity and drought tolerance
  • Screening of traditional landraces in paddy from Odisha and Kerala for higher zinc and iron content


  • Secondary compounds for improving crop productivity through biosynthesis and purification of phytochemicals from lichen and plants
  • Isolation and characterization of genes involved in polyketide pathway of secondary compound rich lichen species for its expression in fungi
  • Establishing a Resource center for lichens


  • Bio monitoring and Enhancing soil fertility using bioinoculants and organic inputs for sustainable agriculture, especially in pulses and millets cultivated in different agro-climatic regions
  • Identifying niche specific microbial consortia for sustainable and eco-friendly agriculture and assessment for use by the communities
  • Mangrove microbial diversity assessment focusing on genes involved in nitrogen cycle
  • Bioremediation of grey water through constructed wetlands using integrated systems namely microbes, algae

Key Achievements

The research work on the development of salinity tolerant crop varieties has been well recognized at national and international fora. The Biotechnology group is co-coordinating and operates in partnership with National and International Institutions. The group is part of National Network programmes on Bioprospecting, Biofortification, Climate Change, Microbial Diversity and Genetic Literacy. The Genome Club model was adopted by the Government of India as a National Programme and renamed to DNA Club. The group have published more than 150 peer-reviewed research papers in National and International Journals and presented papers in International Conferences and Symposia. The group has two international patents. Over 50 research students of the group have received their Ph.D. degrees. The group has achieved significant leads and has generated material, some of which are listed below

Isolated and characterized a number of promising genes, and promoters with implications on abiotic stress tolerance in local rice varieties from genes isolated and characterized from donor species. Transgenic rice varieties showing improved tolerance to salinity and drought has been developed.

To increase the micro-nutrient content in rice, the group isolated the ferritin gene from a mangrove species, and actively screens traditional rice germplasm for high Zinc content.

Molecular mapping and diversity analysis of mangroves, millets, rice varieties, VignaCajanus and Pandanus species for the assessment of genetic diversity and provides useful information for species identification, genetic relationships, parent selection, germplasm management and conservation.

Bacterial diversity assessment from the mangroves and coastal soils has demonstrated the presence of many novel bacterial species with ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and phosphate solubilizing bacteria. These bacterial species play an important role in maintaining soil nutrient status and improving nutrient availability

Isolated and characterized a number of potential compounds including novel structures from lichen cultures and mangrove, RET and medicinal plants and identified potential molecules against cancer and tuberculosis in partnership with national Institutes.

Standardized mass propagation protocols for a numb

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International Conference 2021

This fortnight e-synergy has some of the eminent participants’ videos who speak on various issues related to food and agriculture.

MSSRF Annual Report 2020-2021

Thirty-First Annual Report



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