The Plant Molecular Biology Research Unit was established in 2001 with the view to promoting Molecular Biology research. The Western Ghats of India is rich in biodiversity. In our field experience, we have observed variability in many plants including medicinal plants. This was the beginning of the idea of selection of superior genotypes. Genetic variability has to be determined for the selection of such superior genotypes. Molecular markers such as isozymes, RAPD, RFLP, ISSR, SNTP etc., can be used for this purpose.
A major project sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi in 2001 was the beginning of this new field of research in the Department of Plant biology and Biotechnology in our College. Interspecific and intraspecific variations among six fern species were studied using isozymes as molecular marker. In this connection, we have collaborated with the Department of Evolutionary Biology of the University of Helsinki, Finland sponsored by UGC, New Delhi in 2003. The Director visited this lab and worked in collaboration with Dr.Helena Korpelainen of the University of Helsinki. In collaboration with Dr.K.Sahayaraj, Department of Zoology of our college, an interdisciplinary project has been carried out on the control of insects using fern extracts, which was sponsored by DST, New Delhi and was successfully completed.
Later, a major project on selection of superior genotypes of some medicinal plants using RAPD has been taken up. The project was sponsored by UGC, New Delhi in 2003 and completed successfully. The Director visited the Institute of Medical Chemsitry, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic in 2005 and also visited the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China in 2009 under the International Collaboration/Exchange Programme sponsored by INSA, New Delhi. Another project sponsored by MOEF, New Delhi in 2005 on the conservation of Biodiversity through Women Self Groups was completed in 2008. A major Research Project on genetic diversity of medicinal plants sponsored by UGC, New Delhi was successfully completed in 2010. The Director is also the Co-Investigator of the ICMR-NAIP Major Research Project on "Upscaling Murrel Seed Production Techniques for Income Generation".
One Major Research Project titled "Selection of Potential Ferns as Biocontrol Agents in the Western Ghats of South India” has been sanctioned by CSIR, New Delhi during this academic year. Another Major Research Project titled “Molecular and Phytochemical characterization in anti-cancer drugs yielding plants in the coastal regions of Tamilnadu" sponsored by ICMR, New Delhi is in progress.
The Director also has conducted one training programme for SC/ST unemployed graduates sponsored by TNSCST, Chennai and one consultancy project sponsored by PWD/WRO on the Nambiyar river basin. He has also carried out many minor projects sponsored by both governmental and non-governmental agencies.
142 research papers have been published in both international and national journals. The Director has participated in 14 international and 12 national conferences and presented papers. He has participated as a resource person in many conferences. The research unit is offering training to various students on molecular biology. 22 scholars have been awarded Ph.D., degree, 21 scholars were awarded M.Phil., and 8 scholars are doing their research.