Research & Development Programmes

Twinning R & D Programme for NER

The Twinning R&D programme for NER was initiated in 2010-2011 towards developing core competence and core capacity in various areas of biotechnology through collaboration of Institutes from North East India with other National Institutes. This Programme has made a huge impact by catalysing vibrant collaborations between institutions from NER and those from the rest of India, evolving NER-specific projects and their implementation across all eight states of the region.

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About 670 Twinning projects have been supported since inception of the scheme in 2010, addressing issues in all areas of Biotechnology with specific relevance to developmental needs of the region; nearly 250 research papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals and more than 2000 young researchers/students of NER have been trained in advanced biotechnology. These projects have been supported in 70 Institutes across NER.

Units of Excellence in NER

The programme aims to identify and nurture outstanding mid-career scientists with excellent track record in research, who possess innovative ideas and are desirous of pursuing research in frontier areas of biological sciences.

Since inception, 34 outstanding scientists from the North East Region have been supported under the programme through funding of their innovative projects across 12 Institutes in NER. Under the programme 3 patents have been filed and 45 research papers have been published.

Major Network R & D programmes in Agriculture Biotechnology

A - Centre of Excellence at the Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat

A Centre of Excellence in Agriculture Biotechnology was established at the Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat in 2012. Under the programme:

  • GM chickpea lines have been developed using Bt Cry genes and these have entered into deregulation process.
  • Under the rice breeding programme, 3 promising drought tolerant lines in Ranjit background along with 6 QTLs for drought tolerance have been identified.
  • 15 biofertilizer formulations and 10 biopesticides were generated and transferred to five companies/firms for commercialization.
  • Three patent applications have been filed on microbial mass production technologies.
  • 51 workshops for farmers and entrepreneurs in use of biofertilizers and biopesticides have been conducted.

During the year 2018-19, DBT has continued support in form of Phase-II for the DBT-AAU Centre of Agriculture Biotechnology for next three years with an aim to take forward its existing research leads to the next level for the benefit of farmers’ community in NE Region. Phase-II of the AAU Centre will focus on the local crops and traits that will have socio-economic impact on North east region.

B - Scented Rice Network Program for the NE

The programme was launched in 2016, with 12 NER Institutes and 15 other institutes as partners. The programme focus on:

  • Biodiversity Studies of Aromatic Rice of North East India.
  • Chemical profiling of Joha and black rice of NER for Nutritional, Nutraceutical Paramters and Aromatic Compounds.
  • Genome and transcriptome sequencing of aromatic rice from North Eastern region.
  • Development of high yielding, non-lodging and biotic resistant varieties of Black scented rice of Manipur and Joha rice of Assam through biotechnological intervention.
  • Functional validation of yield related genes.
  • Microbial roles in yield management of scented rice of North East India

Under the programme, a total of 106 aromatic rice germplasm has been collected from different regions of NER and characterized. They have been found rich in anti-oxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids. Further, the rice bran oil from the scented rice (Joha) variety was found rich in ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acid and are efficacious to diabetes for which a patent application has been filed in India.

C - Major network programme on NER-Banana

The programme has been initiated in 2018, with 39 institutions including 18 from NER Institutes and 21 other institutes. The programme will focus on biodiversity studies of NER banana, pathogen detection and control, tissue culture, value addition, post-harvest loss and down-stream processing studies.

Major Network R & D programmes in Animal and Aquaculture Biotechnology

Centre of Excellence in Fisheries Aqua Biotechnology

The Phase-I of FAB-COE was launched in 2012 at College of Fisheries, Agartala, Tripura. The Centre has led to:

  • The inventorizsation of over 300 fish species, 144 of which have been DNA barcoded.
  • Standardization of efficient breeding protocols for the food fishes including pengba, pabda and reba.
  • Development of technology of aquaponic on-farm production of protein-rich wolffia and its utilization as feed ingredient
  • Leads have been obtained in identifying local feed ingredients for larval feed.

During the year, Phase-II of the project has been supported to take these efficient breeding and feed production technologies/packages developed in Phase-I to the farmers level in the selected regions of the NER.

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Advanced Animal Diagnostic and Management Consortium (ADMaC)

The programme aims at strengthening regional infrastructure and capabilities in the direction of developing latest diagnostics and organizing rigorous surveillance for the highly contagious and ravaging diseases so as to have complete vigil on the disease situation of emerging and exotic infections and to build a formidable defence to guard the territories. This programme is being implemented with 3 NER Institutes, 4 National Institutes and 8 State Veterinary and Animal husbandry departments as partners.

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Following leads have been obtained under the programme:

  • Disease maps of important diseases have been developed based on which real-time in-situ disease outbreaks can now be depicted in NER.
  • Important isolates including new pathogens (about 4500), have been deposited in national and regional repository at AAU-Khanapara.
  • Molecular epidemiological picture on antimicrobial resistant bacteria in NER livestock and environment has been established.
  • Experimental production has been initiated for cell line adopted swine fever vaccine and duck plague vaccines.
  • Confirmatory field diagnostic tests have been developed for several diseases such as Swine Fever, Duck Plague, Circo virus, goat pox, PRRS, etc.
  • Project has resulted in 32 publications and 2 patents so far.

C. Consortia project on ‘NER Duck’

This programme is being being implemented through 8 NER and 8 other institutes. The programme focuses on breeding of duck by converging conventional and molecular techniques, developing molecular platform for epidemiology, disease mapping and development of diagnostics for economically important diseases, development vaccine against Duck Plague Virus, analysis of Gut Metagenome of Duck for identification of bacteria having Probiotic potential and value chain on processing of novel Duck meat and egg for entrepreneurship development in NER.

Major Network R & D programmes on Bio-resource based applications & Secondary Agriculture

1. Excellence on Bioresources and Sustainable development

Centre of Excellence on Bioresources and Sustainable development is being established in Arunachal Pradesh. The centre will focus on documenting the abundant biodiversity and bio-resources of Arunachal Pradesh, production of cold tolerent enzymes from microbes isolated from high altitude region of Arunachal Pradesh for wide industrial applications and research for sustainable utilization through setting up of fruit processing units, banana fibre extraction & processing unit, mushroom propagation units, vermi-composting units, units for orchid and medicinal & aromatic plants cultivation.

2. Value addition from Jackfruit of NER

Under this project, 107 local Jackfruit genotypes for table purpose and 43 local genotypes for vegetable purpose have been identified. Budding technique in Jackfruit for multiplication of elite planting materials has been standarised, technology for preparation of ready to cook (RTC) tender jackfruit for vegetable purpose has been developed. The process protocols for preparation of value- added products such as chips, pulp utilization for jam, squash etc has been standardised.

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3. Value addition from Citrus

Under this programme, protocols have been developed for Ready-To-Serve drinks, fizzy carbonated drinks, squashes and fruit juice concentrates from NER citrus fruits including Assam lemon, kachai Lemon, mandarin and sweet orange. The protocol has also been developed for extraction of peel oil and pectin NER Citrus. Pilot testing and up-scaling facility has been established at Medziphema, Nagaland.

4. Integrating herbal medicine of NER

In this contemporary approaches to develop therapeutic strategies for metabolic syndrome (DDRC), 3 medicinal plants - Premna herbacea, Allium hookeri, Lysimachia candida have shown promising results in controlling obesity and hyperglycemia in animal models of metabolic syndrome and a patent has been filed on herbal composition from Premna herbacea, for its use in prevention of obesity. Well equipped laboratory has been established for “Traditional knowledge based drug discovery” in IASST, Guwahati.

Major Network R & D programmes in Environmental Biotechnology

1. Chemical Ecology of the North East Region (NER) of India

Under this programme, being implemented through Nagaland State Council in collaboration with NCBS, Bangalore many researchers of NER have been trained in the field of chemical ecology and major leads have been obtained. Laibakcin, a novel compound has been isolated from the Artemisia vulgaris grown in Sikkim. This compound has shown toxicity against stored grain pests. A promising botanical extract for controlling insect vectors (Aedes aegypti) from Artemisia sp has also been isolated, purified and are being characterized. A novel sugar compound with antioxidant property has been isolated, purified and characterized from the locally available edible berry, Elaeagnus pyriformis for use as nutraceutical.

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Major Network R & D programmes in Medical Biotechnology

1. MDR-TB in North East India: a genomic driven approach

MDR-TB has very high prevalence in NER, being the highest in Sikkim. The department has initiated a major network programme on “MDR-TB in North East India: a genomic driven approach” involving 22 NER institutes from 8 states and 14 other Institutes, to address various scientific and societal issues of MDR-TB in NER. The programme involves mapping hot-spots of TB and MDR/XDR-TB in NER using genome sequencing approach; population genetic studies to delineate predisposing factors, development/validation of new tools for diagnosis of TB & MDR-TB and non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM); awareness programme on NTMs & Paragonimiasis through training/ seminar/workshop/health camps.