Last Updated: Monday, 06 July 2015
Recent Research

The research goal of the department is to understand microbes, MAPs, and their interactions in the environment in order to provide effective approaches by which plant disease can be controlled and beneficial interactions can be maximized. The department carries out well-balanced research programs ranging from fundamental studies of host-parasite relationship to more applied studies of disease control on important MAPs including mints, opium poppy, Kalmegh, Ashvagandha, geranium, aromatic grasses etc. It has a strong research history in the field of control of viral, fungal and bacterial diseases. It also has extension programs dedicated towards educating the growers and farmers regarding management of plant health by using the latest techniques and healthy planting materials. Besides, it offers numerous graduate and post graduate level courses / trainings in plant pathology for students.

Currently the department is working on the epidemiology and control of various fungal diseases with special emphasis on sudden death syndrome (SDS), anthracnose, leaf spots and wilts. Current research is investigating the effects of rotation, environmental factors influencing the disease and disease development or yield, cultivar resistance, and use of appropriate fungicide for control measure. More efforts are also given to manage the diseases though natural resources (essential oil etc).

The department also focuses on the ecology of soil borne plant pathogens including Rhizoctonia solani, Thielaviopsis basicola, and Pythium spp., on the influence of soil physical factors and sustainable agricultural practices. The importance of chronic diseases on seedling development and yield is also being investigated. Currently workers are also exploring possibilities to manage plant diseases through eco-friendly approaches like using bio-inoculants. Plant natural compounds and essential oils, are being tried as biofertilizers and biocontrol agents, respectively.

Several new virus complexes have emerged in the last decade causing detrimental losses. For example, begomovirus associated with leaf curl disease of mint, kalmegh, basil etc. One of the goals of the department’s research is to understand the epidemiology of virus complexes and implement cultural and pest management strategies to minimize disease impact. Ultimately, it is looking into the development of an IPM program that will minimize chemical input and yield losses. There is also an approach based on reverse genetics, whereby viruses are used as vectors for RNA interference. The goal is also to identify and characterize genes involved in disease development and resistance in collaboration with breeders. This will lead to development of techniques that will allow identification of genes for the improvement of the crop yield as well as health. Using large scale sequencing and custom-made bioinformatics pipelines, enables detection of viruses / fungi known to infect a crop but even more importantly new viruses that are associated with diseases of unknown etiology. The role of abiotic and biotic stresses on the secondary metabolite production by infected MAPs is also under investigation.

Past experience indicates that phytoplasma is emerging as a new threat to MAPs and causing a tremendous loss of biomass. Some new phytoplasmas from MAPs have been isolated and characterized. The department has successfully completed several sponsored projects of CSIR, DBT, UPCST and UP Biodiversity Board.

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