Ciliate Biology Laboratory Ciliated Protozoa play a significant role in soil and water ecosystems and are being used as excellent eukaryotic model systems in various fields of Life Sciences. Realizing the need of the hour, in 2005, the College established a research laboratory in the field of Ciliated Protozoa, as a component of the Eukaryotic Microbiology Unit, with funding from the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. This project was granted to Dr Komal Kamra, a member of the College's Zoology Faculty, as the Principal Investigator, along with Professor GR Sapra and Professor Rup Lal from the Department of Zoology, University of Delhi.
It was a challenge to set up a research facility in zoology, but soon enough, with full support and encouragement from the College Administration and the Governing Body, the laboratory took shape. Presently, it has a culture room, a work station and an office-cum-seminar space. Research staff was soon in place with the induction of a junior research fellow and a laboratory attendant. The Ciliate Biology Laboratory has microscope equipment from Leica Microsystems, Germany.
Work began on cataloguing extremophilic ciliated protozoa from biodiversity hotspots of India a sulphur spring in Uttarakhand, Valley of Flowers in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, and The Silent Valley in the Western Ghats. Presently, sampling is underway from eight national parks, including the Desert National Park, in Rajasthan. The results were encouraging and we have to date described over 70 species, many of them new. Two papers have been published and three presented in International Symposia. Preparation of site specific monographs is underway.
On 01.01.09, a project was sanctioned by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, to Dr Kamra along with Professor Rup Lal and Professor GR Sapra, Department of Zoology, University of Delhi. Eastern Himalayas, a biodiversity hotspot, will be sampled for cataloguing ciliated protozoa. Under the project, a molecular biology unit is being set up. In addition to classical techniques already well established in the laboratory, molecular methods will be used not only for characterization but also for assessing dispersal patterns and phylogenetic relationships. Two research students and a laboratory attendant will help in the assignment. Purchase of equipment is under process.
The College organized an International Symposium on Ciliate Biology on 6-7 February, 2007, in collaboration with the ciliate biology group of the Department of Zoology, University of Delhi. The two day meet attracted well known scientists from five continents, and had 3 national and 13 international plenary presentations in addition to 21 posters. The summary written by Prof DH Lynn (Canada) was published in Protist, the no 1 journal in the field. A significant feature of the seminal event was that undergraduate students had the opportunity to help in the organization and attend an event of this level.
A step towards international cooperation, the College entered into collaboration with the University of Camerino, Italy, in 2008. It is a matter of pride for our laboratory that a senior research fellow has been selected for a one year fellowship to work with Prof Cristina Miceli, a collaborator in the Tetrahymena genome project.
We also have an on-going research interaction with Dr Alan Warren, a research scientist at London's Natural History Museum. He visited the College in November, 2008 and in February, 2009