Monday, 21 September 2015

Bioinformatics Centre Inaugurated at Tripura University

The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurating the Bioinformatics Centre, at Tripura University, Agartala on September 21, 2015.  

The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan addressing at the inauguration on the Bioinformatics Centre, at Tripura University, Agartala on September 21, 2015.

Courtesy: Press Information Bureau, India

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Six Emerging Topics Identified for Detailed Group Discussions During Rabi Conference 2015 on 22nd-23rd September

Dhirendra Kumar
News Curator cum Moderator
Indian Botanists

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare organizes Rabi and Kharif Conferences every year with a view to review performance of the preceding season and to prepare strategies for the coming season. In order to review the production performance of Kharif-2015 season, formulate strategies for crop production for ensuing Rabi 2015-16 season, take stock of inputs to ensure timely supply and to create awareness of new technologies & innovations in crop production and allied sectors, a National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2015-16 is being organized on 22nd and 23rd September, 2015 at the National Agriculture Science Center, ICAR Pusa Complex, New Delhi.

The Agriculture Production Commissioner / Principal Secretary / Secretary of Agriculture & Horticulture / Commissioner / Director of Agriculture / Horticulture from all the States / Union Territories; Scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); officers from the Department of Fertilizer (Government of India); Refinance institutions like National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD); officers of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare will participate in the conference. During the conference key presentations on performance of crop production during Kharif 2015 and strategies / prospects for Rabi 2015-16; and on focused topics highlighting innovative schemes related to agriculture & horticulture as also new research technologies would be made for providing exposure to the States.

The Conference would be inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh; Hon’ble Ministers of State, Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan and Shri M.K. Kundariya will grace the occasion. They will all be addressing the administrators, technocrats, agricultural scientists, representatives of various central departments / autonomous bodies and media persons invited to this important event. Shri Siraj Hussain, Secretary, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare under whose leadership and guidance the Rabi Conference is being organized will be present through the two day sessions and will address at the inauguration. 

 Six emerging topics identified for detailed group discussions amongst participating states under the guidance of DAC & FW on the first day of the conference are as under:

1. Promoting pulses and oilseeds in rice fallows

2. Promoting organic farming through 'Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)'
3. Enhancing area under irrigation and achieving water use efficiency through 'Pardhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY)'

4. Creating a nationally integrated market through 'National Agricultural Market'

5. Agrarian crisis and agricultural crisis – Issues and solutions

6. Promotion Of Horticulture in the country

Recommendations of the groups following the discussions will be further fine tuned in consultation with the States on the second day of the conference & final outputs, shared by the department with all the concerned.

The Rabi season is an important as Kharif in ensuring the nation’s food security. The normal area that is cultivated in Rabi is 61.43 million ha. The principle crops are wheat, other cereals like barley, rabi jowar, rabi maize, pulses like bengal gram, oilseeds like linseed, rape seed & mustard, safflower and commercial crops like tobbaco. Rabi cropping system contributes to the country’s food grains output to an extent of about 51% on an average. The department’s strategy is to maximize the rabi output against the backdrop of rainfall deficit in some parts of the country. 

Source: Press Release, Press Information Bureau, India

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

An Overview of Grouping of Spices

P. Chhetri*, A.K. Vijayan, S.K. Bhat, B.A. Gudade and S.S. Bora
Indian Cardamom Research Institute,
Regional Research Station, Spices Board,
Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim-737102


Spices grouping has a broad application prospective in agriculture and medicine and is especially significant to the biology diversity research. As spices are vitally important in medicinal value, it is more important to identify and classify them accurately. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of different system of spices classification.
Keywords: Basis, Classification, Spices


The term spices applies to natural plant or vegetable products or mixtures in whole or ground form, which are used for imparting flavor, aroma and pungency to the food items. Spices are also being used within the country for flavoring foods and in medicines, pharmaceutical, perfumery, cosmetics and several other industries.

It is well known that plants play a crucial role in preserving earth’s ecology and environment by maintaining a healthy atmosphere and providing sustenance and shelter to innumerable insects and animal species. In addition plant has plenty of use in food stuff, botany and many other industries (Metre and Ghorpade, 2013). In the same way spices carry significant information for the development of human society. Hence precise identification of the respective spices is vital.

India is known the world over ‘The Home of Spices’. India has a glorious past, pleasant present and a bright future with respect to production and export of spices. According to International organization for standardization (ISO) there are about 109 spices and India produce as a many as 75 in its various agro climatic regions ( Spices may comprise different plant components or parts such as floral parts (cloves, saffron etc.) or fruits (cardamom, chillies etc.) or berries (all spice black pepper, juniper etc.) or seeds (aniseed, caraway, celery, coriander) or rhizomes (ginger, turmeric etc) or root (angelica, horse radish, lovage etc.) or leaves (bay leaves, mints, marjoram, tejpat etc.) or kernel (nutmeg etc.) or aril (mace), or bark (cinnamon, cassia etc.) or bulbs (garlic, onion etc.) or other part of spices plants (

Different basis of spices classification

A. On the basis of cotyledons

1. Dicotyledoneae: Chilli, paprika, red pepper, sesame, camomile, chicory, tarragon, cubeba, long pepper, pepper, mace, nutmeg, bay leaf, cassia, cinnamon, star-anise, mustard, wasabi, allspice, clove, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, parsley
2. Monocotyledoneae: Garlic, onion, saffron, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, vanilla.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

B. On the basis of family

1. Zingiberaceae: Large cardamom, small cardamom, ginger, turmeric, greater galanga
2. Solanaceae: Chilli
3. Piperaceae: Pepper, pepper long
4. Apiaceae: Coriander, cumin, fennel, celery, aniseed, ajowan, caraway, dill, garlic, parsely, asafoetida, lovage
5. Fabaceae: Fenugreek
6. Lauraceae: Cinnamon, cassia, tejpat, bay leaf
7. Rutaceae: Curry leaf
8. Clusiaceae: Kokam, camboge.
9. Lamiaceae: Mint, hyssop, marjoram, basil, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, oregano.
10. Brassicaceae: Mustard, horse radish.
11. Punicaceae: Pomegranate.
12. Iridaceae: Saffron.
13. Orchidaceae: Vanilla.
14. Llliciaceae: Star Anise.
15. Araceae: Sweet flag.
16. Capparidaceae: Caper.
17. Myrtaceae: Clove, allspice.
18. Myristicaceae: Nutmeg, mace.
19.Papaveraceae: Poppy seed.
20. Cupressaceae: Juniper berry.
21. Asteraceae: Tarragon.
22. Caesalpiniaceae: Tamarid.

C. On the basis of Economic importance

1. Major spice: This spice contributes major share to spice trade industry-75-95% of total foreign exchange Ex: Black pepper, chillies, small cardamom, ginger, turmeric
2. Minor spice: Except the above 5 spices all other spices are grouped under minor spices.

D. On the basis of origin & flavour

1. Pungency spice: Pepper, ginger, chillies, mustard, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, onion.
2. Aromatic fruit: Cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, nutmeg.
3. Aromatic bark: Cinnamon & cassia.
4. Phenolic spices: Cloves, allspice.
5.  Coloured spices: Paprika, Saffron, Turmeric.

E. On the basis of degree of taste

1. Hot spices: Capsicum, black and white peppers, ginger, mustard.
2. Mild spices: Paprika, coriander.
3. Aromatic spices: Allspice, cardamom, cassia, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, mace, nutmeg.
4. Herbs: Basil, bay, dill, leaves, marjoram, tarragon, thyme.
5. Aromatic vegetables: Onion, garlic, celery.

F. On the basis of growth habits

1. Herbs: Ajowan, coriander, cumin, tenet, fenugreek, chillies, parsley
2. Shrubs: Rosemary, chillies (perennial chillies), pomegranate
3. Trees: Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, tamarind, garcinia, Japanese pepper
4. Climbers: Black pepper, tailed pepper, vanilla
5. Perennial herbs/rhizomatous herbs: Cardamom, ginger, turmeric, mango ginger, Japanese ginger, galanga, asafoetida.

G. On the basis of season of growth

1. Annual spices: Spices which complete their life cycle in one growing season are called annuals. Example of this type of spices are coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ajowan and black cumin, aniseed, mustard, chilli.
2. Biennial spices: It needs two growing seasons to complete the life cycle. Examples of biennial spices are onion and parsley.
3. Perennial spices: Perennial spices are those which live for more than two years. Cardamom, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, saffron, clove, nutmeg, asafoetida and cinnamon are example of perennial spices. 

H. On the basis of parts used

1. Leaf: Coriander, Celery, curry leaf, mint, parsley, tejpat, hyssop, bay leaf, lovage, marjoram, basil, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, oregano, tarragon.
2. Bark: Cinnamon, cassia, tejpat
3. Rhizome: Ginger, turmeric, sweet flag, greater galangal.
4. Fruit: Pepper, cardamom, chilli, coriander, cumin, fennel, celery, aniseed, ajowan, caraway, dill, pepper long, star anise, allspice, tamarind.
5. Seed: Cardamom, fenugreek, mustard, pomegranate, nutmeg, poppy seed.
6. Rind: Kokam, camboge
7. Bulb: Garlic
8. Stem: Celery, lovage
9. Pod: Vanilla
10. Stigma: Saffron
11. Root: Horse radish, angelica, lovage
12. Flower bud: Caper
13. Unopened flower bud: Clove
14. Berry: Juniper berry
15. Aril: Mace
16. Oleogum resin from rhizome and thickened root: Asafoetida


1. Vishakha Metre and Jayshree Ghorpade. 2013. An overview of the research on texture based plant leaf classification. International Journal of Computer Science and Network, Vol 2, pp 2277-5420

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Now, Ministry of Environment too Revised the Fellowship for JRF, SRF and RA w.e.f 1.10.2014

 Dhirendra Kumar
News Curator cum Moderator
Indian Botanists

Ministry of  Environment, Forest and Climate Change vide their office memorandum F.No.2/6/2013-RE dated 2nd September, 2015, revised the emoluments of research  personnel working in research and development programmes of the ministry.

The revised emoluments are as follows:

S.No   Designation                              Existing                          Revised

1.       Junior Research Fellow                 Rs.16,000/-                    Rs.25,000/-

2.       Senior Research Fellow                Rs.18,000/-                    Rs.28,000/-

3.       Junior Project Fellow                    Rs.10,000/-                    Rs.16,000/-

4.       Senior Project Fellow                    Rs.12,000/-                   Rs.18,000/-

5.       Research Associate -I                    Rs.22,000/-                  Rs.36,000/-

6.       Research Associate -II                   Rs.23,000                    Rs.38,000/-

7.       Research Associate -I                    Rs.24,000/-                  Rs. 40,000/-

Category of Junior Project Fellow and Senior Project Fellow is applicable only when NET qualified candidates are not available for the project sponsored by the ministry.
House Rent Allowances to all the above categories, as per central government norms.
Research Fellows working in the institutes of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education and other institutes or projects sponsored by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change will benefit from this increase in fellowship and their long awaiting expectation will be fulfilled.

For more details, see the office memorandum below    


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Agriculture Expert Ramesh Chand appointed as new full time member of NITI Aayog

Dhirendra Kumar
News Curator cum Moderator
Indian Botanists

The Prime Minister has approved the appointment of agriculture expert Prof Ramesh Chand as one of the full-time members in the NITI Aayog. 

He has been a member of a task force on agriculture development under NITI Aayog which is formulating strategies to give a boost to the agriculture sector. Shri Ramesh Chand has also headed a government panel on Minimum Support Price and has been working as Director of National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NIAP) in New Delhi since 2010. Before this Dr. Chand served as ICAR National Professor at NCAP (2006 to 2010).

Dr Ramesh Chand
He did his Ph. D in  Agricultural Economics from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. His Ph.D. thesis, submitted to Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, was selected for Jawaharlal Nehru Award of Indian Council of Agricultural Research in recognition of its outstanding Research contributions.

Dr.Chand possess more than 25 years of experience in research and teaching. He worked in senior academic positions as Professor and Head – Agricultural Economics Unit, at Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University; Professor of Marketing at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; Principal Scientist at NCAP; and Acting Director NCAP. 

He has international experience as visiting professor at University of Wollongong in Australia (2000) and Visiting Fellow at Institute of Developing Economies, Chiba Shi, Japan (2003). Dr. Chand has also worked as consultant for FAO, UNDP, ESCAP, and World Bank. 

 Dr. Chand is author of seven books and nearly hundred research papers published in reputed national and international journals. His books are mostly on agriculture policy and development issues. some of his books are: Agricultural Diversification in India: Potential and Prospects in Developed Region; Trade Liberalisation, WTO and Indian Agriculture: Experience and Prospects;  Trade Liberalisation, WTO and Indian Agriculture: Experience and Prospects.

Served in several high level committees set up by government of India including “Steering Committee on Agriculture for XIth Plan” where he drafted the report of the Committee. He has been awarded for  Rafi Ahmad Kidwai Award of ICAR in 2011. 

The National Institute of Transforming India, NITI Aayog under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been set up in place of place of Planning Commission. It has noted economist Aravind Panagariya as its Vice Chairman while economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO Chief VKSaraswat along with agriculture expert Ramesh Chand now as full time members. 

Inputs: Press Release, Press Information Bureau, India and

Monday, 7 September 2015

NBPGR signed an MoA for transfer of DNA-based GMO Screening Technologies

Dhirendra Kumar
News Curator cum Moderator
Indian Botanists

ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with M/s DSS Imagetech Private Limited, Delhi, facilitated by Agrinnovate India Limited (AgIn) on 19th August, 2015 for transfer of five DNA-based GMO screening technologies:
  1. Hexaplex PCR targeting six marker genes(aadA, bar, hpt, nptII, pat and uidA)
  2. Duplex TaqMan Real-time PCR targeting P-35S and T-nos
  3. Visual Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP)-based technology targeting eight transgenic elements (P-35S, T-nos, aadA, nptII, uidA, cry1Ac, cry2Ab, cp4-epsps)
  4. Real-time LAMP-based technology targeting eight transgenic elements (P-35S, T-nos, aadA, nptII, uidA, cry1Ac, cry2Ab, cp4-epsps)
  5. TaqMan Real-time PCR-based multi-target system covering 47 targets for screening
Photo courtesy:
How and why DNA based GMO screening technologies are important?

Since decades, controversies are going round the globe with regard to commercialization of GMO. Many countries have approved few crops for commercial production while few others are in process. India has approved experimental field trials for some selected crops. Even though Indian government is committed to promote GM crops,   debate exists on why India does not need GM technology and genetically modified Crops?
Many countries have approved few crops for commercial production while many are in process . Further each nation have their own labelling legislation and trade requirement.
A report, prepared for the department of agriculture, fishries and forestry, government of Australia, summarizes that,
"DNA detection methods are very sensitive, although careful sample preparation is required to extract DNA free from assay inhibition that are naturally present in many food products."
" By varying the DNA sequence, it can be used for general screening to a construct or event specific such as to achieve relative quantification required for compliance with labelling legislation and export of raw produce."

What NBPGR says?
NBPGR informed that, these technologies provide efficient GMO screening tools to check the GM status of a sample irrespective of GM crop/trait, in a rapid/cost-efficient way. Visual and real-time LAMP technologies, when combined with fast DNA extraction method, would facilitate on-site GMO screening in farmers fields and at ports of entry.
The commercialization of these technologies in the form of user-friendly kits would help in building the confidence of consumers, assisting in post-release monitoring of GM crops and solving legal disputes, if arise. 

Input References

Friday, 4 September 2015

Department of Biotechnology, India launched the “DBT-Pan IIT Centre for Bioenergy” for Research on Advance Bio-Fuel Technologies

Dhirendra Kumar
News Curator cum Moderator
Indian Botanists

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India launched the “DBT-Pan IIT Centre for Bioenergy”, a virtual Centre spread across 5 Indian Institutes of Technology; Bombay, Kharagpur, Guwahati, Jodhpur, and Roorkee and coordinated by IIT Bombay signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on September 3, 2015. 
DBT formalizes virtual centre for research on advance bio-fuel technologies like cyanobacterial bio-fuels, bio-fuels from micro-algae, ligno-cellulosic biomass to bio-fuels and also on techno-economic and life cycle analysis. The collaboration initiated in January 2015 and engaged a research team from the five participating institutes consisting of 32 investigators who have been working on bio-energy and will jointly undertake research activities in the said thematic areas.

The first virtual centre for collaborative research will focus on the thematic areas of research in advance bio-fuel technologies.

Though the first virtual centre, it is the fourth centre in Bio-energy research set up by DBT in addition to the DBT-IOC Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Faridabad, DBT-ICT Centre for Energy Biosciences, Mumbai and DBT-ICGEB Centre for Advanced Bioenergy, New Delhi. This is also the largest among the four Bioenergy Centers in terms of investigator participation.

Memorandum of Agreement was signed between DBT and the participating 5 IITs on Sep 3, 2015 in presence of Prof. K VijayRaghavan, Secretary DBT. The meeting was attended by Dr.RenuSwarup (Senior Advisor, DBT), Prof. Devang Khakhar (Director, IIT Bombay), Prof. Pradipta Banerji (Director, IITRoorkee), Prof.Gautam Biswas ( Director, IIT Guwahati), Dr.Sangita Kasture (Joint Director, DBT), Prof.Pramod Wangikar (Coordinator of the Centre, IIT Bombay), Prof.V.Narayanan (IIT Jodhpur) and Prof. Saikat Chakraborty (IIT Kharagpur).

The main objective of this centre is to develop advanced technologies in the area of biofuels, paving the way for a sustainable solution to the energy crisis. The Centre also aims to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the bio-energy industry in India.

Source: Press Release, Press Information Bureau, India