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Zoology Research

The department has 3 research laboratories which perform cutting-edge scientific research. These include:

Microbial Technology Laboratory – Established in 2006 under the mentorship of Dr. Monisha Khanna, the laboratory has been involved in the following projects:
1. Isolation and characterization of actinomycetes and analysis of their antibacterial potential.
Actinomycetes were isolated from varied ecological environments. The potential of isolates to produce novel antibiotics was tested against the sensitive pathogenic strains using qualitative and quantitative analyses including minimum inhibitory concentration (MICs) determination. Compounds were chemically characterized by chromatographic techniques. Selected strains producing novel compounds were taxonomically characterized by a polyphasic approach encompassing genotypic, phenotypic and chemotypic studies. The strains were submitted to the Pharmaceutical Group: Nicholas Piramal, Mumbai for screening of antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer and antitumor metabolites.

2. Extraction and activity analyses of extracellular enzymes from soil Actinomycetes.
Actinomycetes are an important group of soil microbes characterized by formation of branching filaments. They are well known for production of several extracellular enzymes. The present project is focussing on study of four important enzymes: phospahatase, xylanase, chitinase and cellulase owing to their potential commercial usefulness. The project has the following objectives: (i) Isolation of actinomycetes from selected habitats, (ii) Primary screening or qualitative analyses of isolates for production of above enzymes, (iii) Secondary screening or quantitative analyses of enzyme activity, (iv) Purification of enzymes and (v) Enzyme assay of purified products.

Insect Pest & Vector Laboratory – The laboratory was established in 2009 with Dr. Sarita Kumar as a mentor and has been involved in the following projects:

1. Evaluation of the potential of cyclopoid as copepod as an effective Bio-control agent for the control of disease vectors.
2. Larvicidal Properties of Certain Botanicals against Mosquito larvae – An Alternative for Mosquito Control.
This project explored the use of natural plant-based products as a safe and alternate method of mosquito control at the larval stage. The repellent, irritant, deterrent and ovicidal properties of extracts were also assessed against three species. These extracts were found to be highly effective, economical, inexpensive, environment-friendly, and safe to the natural enemies and non-target organisms. This approach could suppress mosquito population below economic threshold using all possible means of control in a rational and harmonious manner.

Ciliate Biology Laboratory – The laboratory, set up in 2012, under the mentorship of Dr. Ravi Toteja & Dr. Seema Makhija, has been involved in the following projects:

1. Stress induced induction of metallothioneins (MTs) gene in ciliates and its use as biomarker to assess environmental pollution. 
Anthropogenic sources, mainly mining and industrial activities, have contributed to substantially increasing heavy metal content in air and in many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Unlike many persistent organic pollutants, metals cannot be degraded, but are accumulated through the food chain. Moreover, some of them produce carcinogenic and genotoxic effects in animals and humans. Due to their ecological, sanitary and even economic consequences, some heavy metals have been considered priority environmental pollutants. The interest in the interactions of heavy metals with microorganisms has increased in the last few years. The aim of the present study is to examine how ciliates respond to metal stress and to see the expression of metallthionenins gene under heavy metal stress.

2.  A study on heavy metal induced stress response at cellular and molecular level in ciliates for the development of a potential biosensor.
The interest on the interactions with the eukaryotic microorganisms (ciliates) has increased in the last few years. Microorganisms- heavy metal interactions involve a general cellular response leading to the metal resistance mechanisms which protects the cell against the metal toxicity. Bioaccumulation seems to be the main heavy metal resistant mechanism present in ciliates and may involve the expression of heat shock proteins. The promoters of ciliate hsp genes can be excellent molecular tools to be used in specific gene constructions to design whole-cell biosensors. The aim of the present study is to investigate the induction of heavy metal stress response in ciliates in terms of cortical morphogenetic changes due to heavy metal bioaccumulation in the ciliates. Moreover, the transcriptional activity of hsp genes such as hsp27, hsp60, hsp70 and hsp90 will also be studied following heavy metals stress. The change in transcriptional activity can be used as a biomarker for monitoring the pollution level. Cellular response to heavy metals may also leads to generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can be used as a tool in using whole cell ciliate as biosensor.