FACULTY OF SCIENCE > Botany
The Department of Botany July 1921 saw the golden dawn on the horizon of Lucknow as the city of Nawabs was gifted Lucknow University and Botany Department. Right from its very beginning the Department had devotional patronage of luminary like Professor Birbal Sahni, FRS, who had earlier briefly served at Benaras Hindu University. He was ably assisted by untiring efforts of Drs S.K. Mukerjee, S.N. Das Gupta and S.K. Pande. Professor Sahni's vision and stupendous efforts and insight zeal brought this Department and the University not only name and fame but it became an international hub especially of Palaeobotanical researches. The teaching faculty of these Departments (Botany and Geology) with its unabashed and sustainable efforts had provided a concrete base for teaching and research of almost all the disciplines which is so well reflected by very well established and renowned units of Algology, Bryology, Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics, Mycology and Plant Pathology, Plant Nutrition, Plant Virology and Palaeobotany. The academic output of this Department has brought laurels, reputation and excellence. The rich traditions and strongly knitted academic fabric as laid down by Late Professor Sahni in 1921 was nurtured further by his successors Professors S.N. Das Gupta (1949-61), S.K. Pandey (1961), A.R. Rao(1961-63), G.S. Verma (1963-64), S.C. Agarwala (1964-79), B.S. Trivedi (1979-83), B.N. Prasad (1983), C.P. Sharma (1983-94), N.K.Mehrotra (1994-99), H.N.Verma (1999-2002), C. Chatterjee (2002-2003) and S.C.Srivastava (2003-present day).
Starting with a handful of teachers under the worthy stewardship of Prof. Sahni in 1921, at present this Department has a very strong faculty comprising of 10 Professors, 13 Readers and 2 Lecturers, representing nearly all the specialties of Botany.
The Department, headed by Professor S.C. Srivastava, offers B.Sc, M.Sc, M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses in Botany. The PhD programme is extended to Lucknow based research institutes of the CSIR, DST, ICAR, and the ICGEB at New Delhi and the IRRI, Manila. Besides offering courses in Botany, the Department also offers two four-semester Masters Programmes in Plant Science and Environmental Science. In association with Academic Staff College of the University, the Department also offers Refresher Courses for in-service teachers of Botany from different Universities and their associated colleges. Currently several research projects are successfully running which have been financially supported from time to time by the UGC, ICAR, DBT, DST, DOE, USPL-480-ICAR, UPCST, UPCAR, NATP, etc. In 1979, the Department was identified as UGC Department for Special Assistance. Currently the DSA is running in its IVth phase with Professor S.C. Srivastava as the co-ordinator. Thrust areas identified in the IVth phase are Bryology, Plant Physiology and Nutrition, Cytology and Plant genetics, and Plant Virology. In 1990 it also qualified for support for the development of infrastructure under the COSIST programme. Fiscal support received under these programs, as also under research projects supported from time to time by different agencies helped the Department in generating facilities for advanced research. The Department is now identified as the DST-FIST sponsored Department of Botany with Professor S.C. Srivastava as the co-ordinator.
The research output has been published in International and National journals of repute such as Journal of Virology (USA); FEBS Letters (the Netherlands); Journal Hattori Bot Lab (Japan); Indian Journal of Experimental Biology (India); Israel Journal of Plant Science (Israel); Journal of Basic Microbiology (Germany); Lindbergia (Denmark); The Bryologist (USA); Molecular and General Genetics (Germany); Photosynthetica (Czechoslovakia); Phytopathology (USA); Phytomorphology (India); Phyton (Argentina); Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (Netherlands); Plant Molecular Biology (Netherlands); Plant Pathology (England); Plant Physiology (USA); Plant Science (Ireland); Canadian Journal of botany (Canada); Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (India); Soil Science and, Plant Nutrition (Japan); Palaeobotanist; Japanese Journal of Phycology; Hydrobiologia; Norwegian Journal of Botany; Journal Bryology; etc.
Botany Department has a unique distinction of teaching and research in almost all the branches with a modern blend of infrastructural facilities as is evident by a following summarized account.
Algology: The teaching and research in this discipline gained momentum in 1951 when Professor B.N. Prasad joined this Department. He initiated researches in various aspects of Algology and Hydrobiology. He earned world acclaim for his contributions on cytology and systematics of the order Conjugales. Along with his students, he carried out investigations on aspects such as cytology, culture and nutrition, taxonomy and floristics of algae of Indian mainland and Andarnan and Nicobar islands, and hydrobiology and pollution of river Gomti and inland lakes. Presently research in Algology is being carried out by Professor RK.Mehrotra and Dr P.K. Misra on certain aspects of hydrobiology and pollution of river Gomti, as well as fossil algae.
Bryology: In 1923 Professor S.K.Pande (FNA) started researches on diversified aspects of Bryophytes and Professor Ram Udar with his innate scholastic insight made Botany Department a very active and reputed centre for research in Bryology. He studied the cytology and culture behaviour of Indian bryophytes and made some excellent contributions on the controversial issue of the origin of archesporium in the genus Notothylas. Late Professor Ram Udar (FNA), ably assisted by his students, expanded the scope of bryological studies to include morphology, taxonomy, life history, palynology, enzymology, ultra structure and culture behaviour of Hepaticae and Anthocerotae, sporeling development, regeneration and gemma development in several Hepaticae. Together they identified several taxa new to science or bryophytic floras of India, especially important among these are the orders Calobryales and Buxbaumiales. Bryology as a discipline of Botany flourished under his expertise and the Department became a premier center of bryological researches. Presently, PROFESSOR S.C. Srivastava, Professor Dinesh Kumar and Dr Geeta Asthana are carrying out researches. Together they have brought out several monographs of national and international acclaim, dealing with Indian Cololejeunea, Geocalycaceae, Hornworts, Lepidoziineae and Notothylaceae. Analysis of micromorphological features of leaf surface, sporoderm and other taxonomically important organs of the different phase and enzyme activity profiles in in-vitro raised plants have also been incorporated in the study of Bryophytes. In-vitro micropropagation of rare, endemic and endangered species is currently in progress. Currently the unit is engaged in assessing the Bryodiversity with an aim to conserve endemic and endangered taxa.
Cytogenetics and Plant Breeding: Late Professor S.S. Raghuvanshi initiated Investigations in this area in 1959. He along with his research students worked extensively on several aspects of cytogenetics, like cytotaxonomy, radiosensitivity, polyploidy breeding, mutation breeding, B chromosomes, biometric genetics, hybridization, in-vitro techniques for induction of somaclonal variations, haploids, micropropagation of trees and embryo, etc. Presently this discipline is being looked after by Professor RR Singh, Dr Kum Kum Misra and Dr Alka Srivastava. They are working on various plant biotechnological and improvement programmes in oil seeds, pulses, some trees and other important plants. The group is concentrating on induction of variability in the existing germplasm for quality improvement and stress tolerance resistance in oil seed and pulse crop.
Ecology, Environment and Soil Science: This discipline is receiving attention of Professors P.N. Sharma and P.K. Tandon after the superannuation of Professor N.K. Mehrotra. The other staff members to look into this discipline are Drs Munna Singh and S.N. Pandey.
Gymnosperms: Professor Sahni earned world-wide recognition for his brilliant investigations on Gondwana Flora, Rajmahal Flora, Saline series, Deccan Intertrappean Flora, and Continental Drift. He worked on fossil as well as living gymnosperms. He established a new order of fossil gymnosperms called Pentoxylales and reconstructed several important fossil gymnosperms. His classification of gymnosperms on the basis of phylogeny is accepted the world over. Presently Professor Dinesh Kumar, who is carrying out researches on living gymnosperms, concentrating on their palynology and cuticular structures along with their SEM details, is looking after this discipline.
Lichenology: Lichenological studies were started in the fifties by Dr D.D. Awasthi (FNA) under the guidance of Professor S.N. Das Gupta. Dr Awasthi continued his studies on Indian Lichens at the University of Colorado and obtained a second Ph.D. degree from there. He created several new species and two new genera and has authored several books and monographs of international repute.
Mycology and Plant Pathology: Professor S.N. Das Gupta (FNA) initiated researches in mycology and plant pathology in 1935. His work on 'saltation in fungi' earned him great fame. He demonstrated that the disease 'Black- tip of mango' was due to boron deficiency, and could be controlled by spraying borax. Late Professor J.N. Rai along with his students worked on mycotaxonomy, ecopathology, biochemistry of fungal diseases, mycoflora of alkaline soils and mangroves. Professor B.B. Sharma and Professor K. Wadhwani continued working on various aspects of this discipline. Presently, Dr Neeta Sharma is carrying out researches on post-harvest pathology and other aspects.
Palaeobotany, Angiosperm taxonomy and Morphology: After the sad demise of Professor Sahni in 1949, Professor A.R. Rao and Professor B.S. Trivedi (FNA) continued work in this speciality. Professor Rao made valuable contributions on Jurrassic flora of Rajmahal Hills, Deccan Intertrappean flora of India and the morphology of several living plants. Professor B.S. Trivedi and his students worked on Tertiary Palaeobotany, morphology of pteridophytes and angiosperms, and electron microscopic observations of several living plants. This work is being carried forward by Professor C.L. Verma, Dr. S. Lavania and Dr Nirmala Upadhyay. Professor C.L. Verma is actively engaged in working out the plants of Deccan Intertrappean Beds and South Indian Lignite beds. Work on certain aspects of angiosperm taxonomy and morphology have been initiated by Dr S. Lavania. Currently she is working on medicinal plants of India.
Plant Physiology and nutrition: Dr S.C. Agarwala (FNA) initiated researches in plant physiology in 1954 after his return from the University of Bristol, U.K. where he carried out the classic work on Molybdenum nutrition of Cauliflower. In his efforts to set up a Center of Plant Nutrition he was ably assisted by Professors C.P. Sharma, N.K. Mehrotra, S.S. Bisht, C. Chatterjee, P.N. Sharma, S.C. Mehrotra and Dr B.D. Nautiyal. Presently a lot of research output in this discipline is through the efforts of Professor P.N. Sharma, Professor S.C. Mehrotra, Professor P.K. Tandon, Professor C. Chatterjee, Dr N. Nautiyal, Dr Y.K. Sharma, and Dr. N. Pandey. Together they have carried out researches on diverse aspects of plant nutrition, viz., induction of visible symptoms of nutrient stresses, mechanism of heavy metal toxicities in plants, role of micro nutrients in growth, metabolism and reproduction, water relations, photosynthesis, stomatal regulation, etc. Currently the plant nutrition group is concentrating on the role of micronutrients in sugarcane yield and physiology, influence of micronutrient supply on oil production, and grain quality of cereals and pulses, etc. Dr Munna Singh is also working in Plant physiology.
Plant Virology and Microbiology: Professor G.S. Verma established the plant virology laboratory and the unit was strengthened by the untiring efforts of Professor H.N. Verma. Professor G.S. Verma and his students worked on identification and characterization of plant viruses, physiology of virus-infected plants, chemotherapy of plant viruses, etc. After his demise in 1974, Professor H.N. Verma initiated work on systemic induced resistance in susceptible plants through use of plant extracts, and together with Professor R.Roychoudhury expanded the work area to include study of virus-vector relationship, serology and electron microscopy of viruses, isolation and characterization of anti-viral proteins. Researches on use of limnoids from neem seed kernel and oil as insect anti-feedent and virus disease control agent was initiated by Professor R. Roychaudhury. A very dedicated worker, she also carried out studies on Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). Emphasis was laid on antiviral defence mechanisms in plants and development of plant disease control methods to combat viral infections. Recently, Professor H.N. Verma was offered the Rectorship of Seedling Institute of Design, Management and Technology, and is presently in Jaipur. Currently, Dr Vivek Prasad and Dr Shalini Srivastava are carrying on active work on biochemical and molecular characterization of systemic induced resistance for the control of plant viruses. The Plant Virology and Microbiology group is working towards development of a new field of plant immunology, wherein a susceptible plant if treated with proteins from naturally growing non-host plants and some rhizobacteria, can be induced to resist subsequent viral infections. Mechanisms underlying this are being worked out with special emphasis on the synthesis of a new proteinaceous virus inhibitory agent produced in cells perceiving signals from systemic resistance inducers. Apart from resistance induction, Ribosome-inactivating functions of these antiviral proteins have also been shown. Additionally, comparative studies of B-1,3-glucanase isoforms, induced during systemic resistance, and those activated during hypersensitive response in plants to virus infections were also studied due to their significance as plant defence enzymes. Molecular studies have been initiated to look at the mechanism of systemic induced resistance.
The Department today, with Professor S.C. Srivastava as the Head, is making steady progress at all fronts, be it in teaching or research. In keeping with the times, new infrastructural facilities have come up in the form of Internet facility as well as a computer laboratory with Internet facility to all faculty members. Several modern equipments have been added in the recent years and are located either in specific laboratories or in a central facility for use by both staff and students. Today the Department occupies a proud position for evolving a unique blend of the traditional and modern Botany/Plant Science teaching and research. While the essence of classical disciplines of botany has been retained, a strong niche has been created for the modern and advanced disciplines of botany and applied aspects. Clearly we owe a lot to the dynamism of earlier workers and the efforts of teachers, students and non-teaching staff today, for raising this Department to a Department of excellence in teaching and research.
Thrust Areas :
Cytogenetics and Plant Breeding
Ecology, Environment and Soil Science