Creating a niche for the Microbial World: GEMTAX 2019

Creating a niche for the Microbial World: GEMTAX 2019

Smruti Sudha Biswal | Jan 28, 2019

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Nature’s biological library is burning even before we can catalogue the titles of all the books stocked there.

This statement has been made in reference to the rampant depletion of biodiversity contributing to various global issues like climate change and global warming. Biodiversity is essential not only for the existence of the human race but also for the world as a whole. It provides the fundamental building blocks for the many goods and services which provide a healthy environment for the proper sustenance of life. Microbial diversity is considered the highest genetic diversity on earth. With the use of molecular approaches, the taxonomic study of microorganisms has been revolutionized. It has bestowed us with an ample understanding of their phylogeny, diversity and physiology.  To foster and impart hands-on training on several molecular techniques in exploring the microbial diversity and taxonomy as an outreach the Department of  Life Science organized a 5-day national workshop called “Genomics for Microbial diversity and Taxonomy (GEMTAX-2019)” from 21st January to 25th January 2019. The workshop was sponsored by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB-DST) and Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS). The workshop has been designed as a dissemination programme of the All India Coordinated Project of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change (MoEFCC), Govt of India on bacterial taxonomy. The workshop was designed to provide a universal platform for all young researchers, academicians, scientists, students for learning the current trends and utilize the techniques in a better way in their research.

Dr.Surajit Das, Group Leader at the Laboratory of Environmental Microbiology and  Ecology (LEnME) was the convener of the national workshop. The event kick-started on 21st January with the Director Prof. Animesh Biswas inaugurating the workshop. It was later followed by an Inaugural Lecture.

Lectures were divided for different days. Notable speakers who addressed the event were:

  1. Prof.Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay from Amity University, Kolkata spoke on Metagenomic approach to study Microbial diversity: A case study.
  2. Prof.Sujoy Kumar Dasgupta, Director, Bose Institute, Kolkata spoke on Reconnecting with our viral ancestors.
  3. Dr Ramanujan Srinivasan from NISER, BBSR spoke on the topic Bacterial cytoskeleton: Diversity and Assembly dynamics.
  4. Dr.Punarbasu Chaudhuri and Shouvik Mahanty from the University of  Calcutta briefed about Isolation of fungi from environmental samples and its morphological characterization using foldscope.
  5. Dr.TK Beuria from  ILS, BBSR spoke about Min system, the regulators of bacterial division.
  6. Dr Hirak Ranjan Dash from Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhya Pradesh along with  Dr.Surajit Das delivered a lecture about Advances in molecular tools and techniques to study microbial diversity.
  7. Dr.Ram Nageena Singh from AgriGenome Labs Pvt.Ltd, Kochi, Kerala talked about NextGen sequencing and Bioinformatics: Tools to study the treasure of unseen microbes.


2 of these lectures were delivered in the morning session of Day 2 and Day 3 whereas the remaining were delivered during the afternoon session of Day 2 and Day 3. Along with the lectures, various experiments were carried out as a part of the workshop. It emphasized various aspects of microbial taxonomy and exploiting various genetic approaches like metagenomics, ERIC-PCR, REP-PCR and various microscopic techniques like fluorescence microscopy and confocal microscopy. There were basically 4 modules according to which the experiments to be carried out had been divided.

Following were the modules:

Module 1: Culture-dependent microbial diversity

Module 2: Culture-independent microbial diversity

Module 3: Biofilm: a natural phenomenon of microbial community

Module 4: Sequence analysis and phylogeny

Twenty participants from different institutes in the country participated in the workshop. All the participants were encouraged to present an e-poster at the end of the day. The best Poster awards were also given. The first prize was bagged by Dr.Anuradha Bandopadhyay, Faculty from the Postgraduate Dept of Botany, Barasat Govt. College, Barasat, Kolkata. The second prize was awarded to Mr. Kumar Kashyap, Research scholar from the Dept of Ocean studies and marine biology, Pondicherry University, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

On being asked about her experience attending the National workshop Dr. Anuradha Bandopadhyay said

It’s a very interesting, useful and compact workshop. The organization is very nice. The lab set up is pretty good and integrated, housing modern equipment. We are lucky to be a part of this. I am hoping that the students who are attending this workshop will take back lot and that this workshop will be very helpful to them. They will get to know many new things which we as faculty even didn’t know at their age. I hope that we will get many more such opportunities to attend.

Speaking about his experience Dr. Om Prakash Verma from Allahabad Agricultural University says

It’s my pleasure to be here. I got the invitation at the last moment and I am very lucky to be a part of it. All the labs are well equipped with all modern facilities. The modules provided for the workshop are also good. The workshop is really helpful for students, researchers and academicians. I hope that such workshops will be organized in the near future.

A research scholar from Dept.of Botany, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Anamika Gupta had to say

This workshop is very useful for me as a researcher. I have learnt new techniques and it’s totally related to my research. The facilities provided are really good. The scholars are helpful as well. I have great pleasure attending this workshop. The campus is so pretty. I am enjoying this workshop a lot.

Curtains were pulled for the 5-day long national workshop on 25th January 2019 after the felicitation of the winners.

Team MM wishes all the best to the department in their future endeavours!

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