CPMB emerging as a nodal centre for genomic research

The Centre for Plant Molecular Biology (CPMB) at Osmania University is on the cusp of becoming a nodal centre for genomic research in south India.

Over the last several years, the Centre has developed a series of genomic resources that are highly regarded in its field. These include sequencing the genomes of one plant, two fungi, two yeasts and 10 bacteria, besides many transcriptomes.

“This is the era of Genomic Research”, said Dr. Kandasamy Ulaganathan, Professor and one of the leading lights at the Centre.

“The genomic revolution is sweeping biology. The earlier methods were not sufficient for understanding the complex functioning of organisms. The genome research on the other hand provides data where the functioning can be comprehended right from the DNA level.”

Prof. Ulaganathan explained: “The data generated in research is so huge that humans cannot process it. So the research is executed with the help of computers. This is what the bio-informatics research is all about.”

The research at CPMB is focused on developing genomic data and extensive bio-informative analysis of these data for understanding the structure and functioning of the organisms and their interaction.

Dr. K. Venkateswara Rao, Professor and Director, along with Dr. V.D. Reddy developed stable transgenic rice lines that can resist major sap-sucking insects and pests by employing different candidate genes isolated from plants. This project was executed during 2009-17 and was financed by about $ 220,000 from Swarnabharat Biotech, Hyderabad. The duo is also currently engaged in DBT-funded research over functional characterisation of genetic and epigenetic networks involved in development of rice.

Prof. Ulaganathan’s group has partnered with various international agencies in the area of genome research. These include the Netherlands Bio-Technology programme and the Training group on Molecular and Cellular Glycosciences, University of Munster, Germany. In India, the group collaborated with Indian Institute of Oil Seeds Research for Sunflower research.

At present, sandalwood genome sequencing is being done with Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore and Dehradun and the Kerala Forest Research Institute. Research on drought tolerance in maize using genome methods is also being carried out in partnership with the city-based Central Research Institute for Dry Land Agriculture.

The Centre is also providing bio-informatics support for breast cancer research being done at the Department of Genetics, Osmania University, in which efforts are focused on understanding the role of RNA editing in the pathology of cancer, Prof. Ulaganathan said.

“We would like to develop CPMB as a nodal centre for genomic research in south India,” he said. “We have developed methods, facilities and resources. Our next goal is to train people and mould them into pioneer researchers. We are always ready to help organisations in genome research.”

The Centre has to its credit two patents, 65 research papers, 56 of them in international journals, 3,272 citations, and 11 doctorates awarded during 2011-17.

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