ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT
Considering the importance of Microbiology in Agriculture, it was started as one of the units of the Department of Biology during 1971 in TNAU and attained the status of separate department during 1979. This department was further bifurcated into Department of Bioenergy, Department of Environmental Sciences and Agrl. Biotechnology. Since its inception, the department is involved in research, teaching and extension activities. The department has released novel strains of biofertilizers for various crops and soils and is pioneer in deducing novel strains for K, Zn and Mn solubilization and hence is recognized as Nodal agency for bioinoculants in Tamil Nadu and authorized for quality check of agricultural bioinoculants. The recent research focus of the department has been extended on bioprocessing, fermentation of vegetables, climate change impact on microbial diversity and biofuels. Post graduate programmes leading to M.Sc. (Ag) and Ph.D. in Agricultural Microbiology were started in 1979 and so far 245 M.Sc. (Ag) and 93 Ph.D. students were trained. This department also offers 13 under graduate courses in microbiology for B.Sc. (Ag), B.Tech. (Biotech), B.Tech (Hort), B.Tech (Food Process Engineering) programmes. The department has established collaborative research work with international agencies/ institutes viz., Institute of Applied Microbiology, Justus Leiburg University, Giessen, Germany (Bioremediation and metagenomics), Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa (Algal biofuels), School of Applied Biology, Florida International University, Miami, USA (Soil metagenomics), Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainsville, USA (Laccase system for biomass conversion), Department of Life Science, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK (Endophytic N2 fixation in cereal crops), IRRI, LosBonas, Philippines (Biological N fixation in wetland ecosystem), Department of Life Sciences, King's College, London (Photobiological Hydrogen production by cyanobacteria) and national two institutes viz., CRRI, Cuttack (Climate change and microbial dynamics), CRIDA, Hyderabad; UAS, Dharwad; Delhi University (Soil genomics network), NBAIM, Mau Nath Bhanjan, UP (Food fermentation and value addition), NCOF, Faizabad (Bioinoculant's quality control), IISC, Bhopal (Biological Nitrogen Fixation Network) and BRNS, Mumbai (Mycorrhiza). The department is having research projects from ICAR, DBT, DST, BRNS, MOFPI and so on with a total budget of about Rs. 5.0 crores per annum. Based on the work, the department was recognized as the Centre for Advanced Studies in Agricultural Microbiology by UNDP / FAO / ICAR during 1979 to 1986 and by ICAR from 1997 onwards. The ministry of Human Resource Development, New Delhi recognizes the department and awarded as Centre of Excellence for Plant Microbe interactions from 2014 on words.
The Department of Agrl. Microbiology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University is working on Biofertilizer research for the past 30 years and identifying new effective strains, new formulations, newer organisms as biofertilizer are in progress. The department has a separate well-equipped Biofertilizer Production and Quality Control unit, which serve as nodal agency for maintaining the quality control of Biofertilizers at state level. Following are some of the mile-stones of biofertilizer research by TNAU.