NE scientists symposium underway
Kohima, April 10 (EMN): A two-day mini symposium of scientists and researchers from five northeast states and Bangalore of the Central Department of Biotechnology (DBT) twinning network programme on Chemical Ecology of North Eastern Region (CENER) got underway today at Hotel Japfü, Kohima.
The DBT funded programme is a multidisciplinary chemical ecology research of NER, launched in April 2016 by the Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, and is reported to be a first of its kind in India and second in the world after Germany. Six institutions from NE including Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Manipur, and three from Bangalore (IISc, NCBS and GKVK) are collaborating in the programme to build research capacity of the region to understand and explore the unstudied flora-fauna chemical interactions that sustain its rich ecosystems.
Welcoming the delegates to the 2nd Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and PSC meeting, Secretary of Science & Technology Nagaland, L Akato Sema expressed hope that the network as well as deliberations at the meeting would lead to new scientific developments particularly for the benefit of the region and its people.
In his introductory, remark during the inaugural session, Prof. Zavei Hiese, member secretary of Nagaland Science & Technology Council (NASTEC), explained in brief how the CENER programme was conceived back in 2012. He said it took about 20 months for the DBT to sanction the programme and currently it has 25 projects under it. The expert also remarked that the north eastern region has a rich biodiversity adding the programme aims to investigate the chemical interactions in nature.
He mentioned that the participating scientists have a wide range of knowledge in the fields of chemistry, agriculture, plant sciences, zoology, neuroscience, behaviour and ecology.
A major focus of the integrated programme is on the chemistry of interactions among plants, animals and microbes. Such interactions and their understanding will impact many fields of biology; agriculture, through their influence on pollination, crop size and pest borne diseases; medicine, through understanding the chemical basis of traditional medicine or how insect disease-vectors identify their mammalian hosts; and biotechnology, by designing better strategies for better crops through facilitating pollination, pest and disease transmission control.
The two-day meeting will deliberate widely on five major objectives, including identification of the origins and compositions of plant, insect and vertebrate pheromones and semio-chemicals; analysis and (re)engineering of chemical communication mechanisms; behavioural and neural mechanisms; molecular and structural mechanisms; and biochemical, genetic and physiological mechanisms. The presenters include more than 30 scientists, post-doctoral fellows and junior research fellows from the five states of northeast and Bangalore.
In addition to building research capacity and creating a fresh cadre of chemical ecologists in the country, the multidisciplinary nature of the programme is expected to enhance the quality and international impact of each component discipline, which lie within the purview of the DBT, and also to provide a firm base for new innovative research projects in the region for the coming years.