Medicinal Plants, Phytopharma and other Bioresources

Translational Research on Medicinal And Aromatic Plants:

The DBT is providing research support across the country towards developing products and processes from medicinal and aromatic plants following multi-disciplinary approach. The DBT is also providing research support for conducting R&D utilizing rich traditional knowledge disciplines on the basis of conventional traditional knowledge in the country following any of the two available regulatory frameworks: (a) DCGI-Phytopharmaceutical Drugs, and (b) AYUSH mode. The aim is to develop a herbal drug pipeline.

Priority R&D areas of this programmes are:

  • Translational Research for converting significant research leads available in Medicinal Plants into potential process and products such as drugs following any of the three available regulatory frameworks: (a) US-FDA-Botanical Drugs, (b) DCGI-Phytopharmaceutical Drugs, and (c) Proprietary Ayurvedic Medicine in AYUSH mode. The aim is to develop a herbal drug pipeline. Routine screening programmes will not be undertaken.
  • Identification of elite material in medicinal and aromatic plants relevant to industry, characterization and developing appropriate markers (molecular and chemical) for authentication, developing mass-propagation technologies for elite material, demonstration trials of medicinal and aromatic crops including processing and development / refinement of the agro-technology in collaboration with industrial partners.
  • Development of improved processes for extraction of high-value phytochemicals or established drug entities from medicinal and aromatic plants.
  • R& D programmes and Achievements

    A number of drug inventions using herbs available in India were achieved with the support of DBT. Some of these were:

    Development of herbal drug for Dengue infection:

    The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is collaborating with the drug major Sun Pharma to use the recombinant EDIII-based sub-unit dengue vaccine candidate, to develop an injectable vaccine that protects against all four dengue strains endemic to India.

    Butea for bone health:

    The Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow is conducting regulatory studies on standardized extraction of Butea monosperma for bone health (osteoporosis) to enable IND filing as phytopharmaceutical drug. This work is based on the research findings generated by previous DBT funded project.

    Novel Bioactive Agents and Herbal Formulation:

    Projects have been supported for developing products and processes from medicinal and aromatic plants following multi-disciplinary approach. Some illustrative examples are as follows:

    • Tirbulus terrestris and Achyranthes aspera were studied in detailed for their potential effects in kidney stone mediated renal injury. They were found to inhibit calcium phosphate (CaP) nucleation and the demineralization of the preformed mineral phase effectively.
    • Syzygium cumini, Costus speciosus, Momordica charantia, Gymnema sylvestre and Azadirachta indica were studied to identify a potent molecule with anti-diabetic and anti-adipogenic activity. Oleanolic acid 3-glucoside (OAG) from S.cumini has been identified using bioactive guided fractionation and structural characterisation. OAG was found to be a bifunctional molecule showing antidiabetic and antiadipogenic effects through inhibition of PTP1B and partial agonism to PPARã.
    • A dipstick-based diagnostic kit for early detection of Begomovirus infection in mint (Mentha arvensis) has been developed at CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow from the viral coat protein.
    • An anti-dermetophytic topical formulation using essential oil of Trachyspermum ammi (Ajwain) as main ingredient has been developed jointly at Dolphin Institute of Biomedical and Natural Sciences, Dehradun and Centre for Aromatic Plants (CAP), Dehradun. The tested formulation showed better efficacy as compared to some popular antimycotic ointments and antifungal drugs already available in the market.
    • A topical formulation for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory has been developed using combination of four plant extracts (Terminalia bellerica, Piper betle, Boswellia serrata and Bergenia ciliata).

    New initiatives undertaken:

    Phytopharmaceutical Mission for NE India launched:

    The DBT has taken initiative on developing Phytopharmaceuticals Mission Programme in North East Region using modern scientific tools following DCGI- CDSCO protocols. The Department has organized a series of consultation meetings involving all the stakeholders from various Ministries /Departments as well as Academia and Industry representatives to launch a Phytopharmaceutical Mission in North East Region with the aim to develop globally acceptable phytopharmaceuticals from medicinal plants of North East Region following DCGI- CDSCO (Ministy of Health & Family welfare, Govt.of India) protocols. Under this Mission, the Department had sanctioned a network project for developing phytopharmaceutical drug as per DCGI mode from Ficus semicordata for the treatment of Diabetes by three institutions – CSIR-IIIM, Jammu; CSIR-NEIST, Jorhat; IBSD, Imphal along with an industrial partner – Emami Ltd., Kolkata as per regulatory guidelines of DCGI. The Department has also sanctioned a project for the establishment of State of the art Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) Laboratory Facility at IASST, Guwahati with the aim towards Quality control for efficacy and safety of herbal products. A proposal has been formulated for establishment of pilot scale extraction facility for standardized botanical extracts, and in the final stage of processing.

    A Brainstorming-cum-Consultation Meeting on Turmeric Mission was organized with an aim to develop a Mission programme on turmeric is being formulated with the aim to generate high-quality raw material for developing nutraceutical products / dietary supplements from turmeric as a whole and curcuminoids for global market.

    Bioresource: Conservation and Digitized inventorization:

    National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR) at National Centre for Cell Science, Pune:

    National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR) started as Microbial Culture Collection (MCC) in 2009 with a mandate to preserve and catalogue diversity of bacteria collected from different ecological niches from all over India and to make them available for biotechnological exploitation by researchers. With excellent infrastructure and expertise in microbial taxonomy and long term preservation it started offering in 2013 various services involving microorganisms. In April 2017 MCC was transformed as a Centre of Excellence for National Centre for Microbial Resource (NCMR). It plays a crucial role as a custodian of microbial diversity of India. With more than 180000 microorgnisms in its collection NCMR is the largest culture collection in the world and single-handedly lifted India to 3rd place among countries having collection of microorganisms. It was recognised in April 2009 as an International Depository Authority (IDA) for the deposit of microorganisms for the purposes of patent procedures under the Budapest Treaty by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva. NCMR also got recognition as a Designated National Repository under the Biodiversity Act of 2002 from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India. It is an affiliate member of the World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) and registered with the World Data Centre for Microorganisms.

    Services offered by NCMR may be categorised in four broad areas:
    1. Deposit of microorganisms (archaea, bacteria, fungi and plasmids) for publications, security, national and international patent applications.
    2. Supply of authentic microbial cultures for teaching, research and quality control programmes.
    3. Identification and polyphasic characterisation of microorganisms.
    4. Human resource development (conducting workshops, mentoring post-graduate and Ph.D. students for their dissertation works, home away teaching and organising relevant conferences.

    Research activities: Service activities of NCMR is strongly supported by active research activities of its excellent scientific staff in the areas of microbial diversity, ecology, taxonomy using both conventional and molecular approaches and metagenomics. NCMR has been a pioneer in the field of human microbiome research. These activities have yielded national and international recognition for the scientists and an impressive list of publications in high impact journals. In its efforts to characterize nation’s microbial diversity it has so far described 46 novel taxa and published over 150 papers.

    The Department has notified NCMR to function as “Bio-repository for resistant microbes/infective agents (Bacteria and Fungi)” to carry out collection, storage, maintenance, preservation and characterization of these microbes across the country.

    Indian Bioresource Information Network (

    Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN) has been launched as a single window gateway to access distributed bioresource database available in the country to offer spatial and non-spatial services on diverse domains of bio-resources and biodiversity. It is a de-centralized bio-resource database based on distributed architecture. It works on the principle of spatial data infrastructure wherein distributed databases available across the country are accessed through one single window gateway. It provides spatial datasets on biodiversity from IIRS (ISRO) and species datasets from University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore as core data nodes of IBIN.

    IBIN is the largest Interactive database including information on Data on 73,276 species of Plants, animals, marine organisms and microbes including the spatial database. All the distributed data providers are now retrievable through a single window ( The end-user can also input the data through the crowdsourced mobile application.

    National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS- TCP): (

    National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP) has been established by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Govt. of India as per the Gazette of India Notification under the Seeds Act 1966. The major objective of NCS-TCP is to facilitate production and distribution of quality tissue culture planting material. To achieve the above objectives, tissue culture companies are recognized under system on the basis of infrastructure and implementation of quality management system. Apart from recognition of tissue culture companies, test laboratories have also accredited under system. After Recognition, tissue culture companies become eligible to get their tissue culture raised plants tested and certified by these Accredited Test Laboratories (ATLs). Two Referral Centers have also been identified for testing of disputed samples, training etc.

    Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) is assisting DBT as the Management Cell for National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants (NCS-TCP). NCS-TCP Management Cell has created a web portal under the guidance of DBT. The NCS-TCP web-portal broadly includes processing of applications from tissue culture companies for recognition and subsequent renewal”, testing and certification of tissue culture raised plants, referral activities, coordination of meeting and information management, database management and instant report generation.

    DBT- Department of Space Mission on Biodiversity characterization

    The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) had under an earlier Mission mode programme with Department of Space (DoS) over 10 years back taken up “Biodiversity Characterization at landscape level”. This was the first such network on Spatial and Non-Spatial data. Under this project, a national level assessment of biodiversity richness was undertaken for the first time in India using spatial data to identify and to map potential biodiversity-rich areas in the country. So far 84% of the Country’s forest cover has been characterized. The study has brought out a Spatial Database, first of its kind, adding spatial explicitness to understanding of vegetation formation; it provides a wall to wall mapping of natural habitats.

    Under the Mission in collaboration with Department of Space, a new initiative has been undertaken recently towards Intensive mapping of Hot-spots and mapping of Coral Reefs. The Mission activities will include the creation of new geospatial inventory of Indian coral reefs covering 172 grids of Indian coral reef regions at 1:25000 scale. The project is going to deliver a new status report on Indian coral reefs and carry out change detection vis-à-vis 2004-08 coral reef inventory based on Indian Remote Sensing satellite. The project also aims to study change hotspots for each of the coral reef region and develop coral health indicator based on field spectroscopy methods. The project on Biodiversity Characterization at community level is targeted at developing an Earth Observation based strategy for monitoring biodiversity at the vegetation community level in India. The project outcomes will lead to the development of earth observation-based biodiversity monitoring system that will benefit both national imperatives and reporting to international commitments on biodiversity goals.

    Marine Bioresource programme and Blue Economy:

    DBT has taken initiatives to establish state-of-art “Virtual Centre of Excellence for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnological Interventions” for exploring ocean resources towards sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and employment generation in the country. The main goal of proposed Centre will be to rapidly escalate India’s research capabilities in modern marine biology and biotechnology so as to capitalise on our vast marine biodiversity in a sustainable manner. it will be dedicated to fundamental and applied marine biological research and will also provide an interface between research and commercialization of technologies through incubator facilities for start-up companies. In order to achieve these goals rapidly and effectively, the Centre will actively network and collaborate with leading MoES and CSIR institutes working in this area and international agencies with complementary expertise.


    Silk is as much a romantic notion as a science issue. While the romance of silk lies in the concept of long voyages along the Silk Route that connected China, Middle East and Europe, with India at the centre, the science relating to silk has to deal with less romantic subjects like increasing volumes of production while matching quality at the same time.

    Though silk was first used in China as long ago as 3500 BC, India is a major sericulture country in the world, being the homeland of all the four varieties of natural silks: Mulberry, Tasar (including Oak tasar), Eri and Muga.

    Tropical tasar silkworm is reared by the tribal inhabitants of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal states, while the temperate tasar silkworm feeds on oak plants in the North Eastern sub-Himalayan states of India.

    Muga silkmoth is exclusively found only in Assam, a northeast Indian state, and is known for its unique valuable golden coloured silk fibre.The non-mulberry silks are called “vanya silks”. Mulberry sericulture dominates, with a share of 89 per cent in production, and 95 per cent in exports. Ninety-eight per cent of mulberry silk is produced in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir.

    As an important part of the economy, the sector’s strengths for growth and rationale for further investments lie in its huge and unsatiated domestic demand, and potential for further increase in exports. The Department of Biotechnology from the beginning decided on a programme for the application of biotechnology for increasing silk productivity, enhancing quality of silk and improvement of host plants in both mulberry and non-mulberry sector.

    Expert Group on Research on Technology Development in Silk and its Applications in BioMaterials

    Contact Person for more information

    Programme HeadDr. Anamika Gambhir, Scientist F
    Contact No.011-24363665
    Programme OfficerDr. Manoj Kumar Modi,Scientist E
    Contact No.91-11-24369383
    Programme OfficerDr. Chandrabhan Dhruw,Scientist C
    Contact No. -