Research and Grants

Introduction 

I am very much interested with the process of evolution, and tracing it using comparative analysis; be it biological species, biochemical compounds, or even languages. My current research focuses can be broadly grouped into five sections:

Marine Biology:

Taxonomy, phylogeography and molecular systematics of algae, including marine macro and micro algae, epi/endophytic algae, terrestrial algae, and freshwater algae.

Botany:

Taxonomy, phylogeography and molecular systematics of a number of higher plants, including medicinal shrubs: Tulsi, Sarpagandha, Aswagandha, Brahmi, Betel, Shankapushpa, and Ashoka, trees: Ficus and Salvadora.

Linguistics:

Tracing linguistic phylogeny of Indian languages using computational phylogenetics.

Medicinal Chemistry:

Phylogenetic Selection Of Target Taxa For Anti-Proliferative And Anti-Metastatic Marine Natural Products From Seaweeds Of Indian Coast

Cancer Research:

Phylogenetic structures in clonal evolution of metastatic cancers; Germ-line SNPs in BRCA-1 of Malwa Population, Genotoxicity of drinking water from Malwa region, Punjab.

            

 


Research Contributions-Summary

I have been working at the Centre for Biosciences, Central University of Punjab as Assistant Professor since 2010. I was born in Kerala where I’ve done my B.Sc. with university first rank. I completed my M.Sc in 2002 from University of Madras Guindy campus. I later worked as CSIR-JRF at National Institute of Oceanography, Goa and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay on various research problems including picoplankton diversity and biological desalination. In 2005 I was awarded Japanese Govt. Monbukagakusho International Ph.D. fellowship, nominated by ministry of Human Resource and Development, Govt. of India and in 2010 I completed my Ph.D. in Molecular Phylogeography from Kochi University, Japan. I have also been selected under various research fellowships including JNCASR-Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship 2001, Indian Academy of Sciences Fellowship-2002, CSIR-JRF with NET-2002, US National Science Foundation-2007 and British Phycological Society-2009 & 2013. In 2012 I received INSPIRE Faculty award from department of Science and Technology, Government of India. In addition, I am involved with popularization of science, and my popular science articles had been appeared in Resonance, Science Reporter, BBC, Shastra Keralam and Eureka. 

An Appeal

Our team is currently facing extreme difficulties with sample acquisition of a number of terrestrial plants, including shankapushpa, sarpagandha, brahmi and betel. We are looking for generous people who can volunteer their time to help us. Detailed guidelines, including what to collect, how to process and how to identify these plants with pictures, are available here. Courier/postal charges will be reimbursed. Depending on the extent of help received, people helping us will also be considered for authorship, in case we draft the manuscript. Please spread the message and help our team out! 

Current External Research Projects with me as Principal Investigator

S.

No.

Title

Agency

Period

Grant/ Amount Mobilized (Lakh )

1

Chemical and Phylogenetic Diversity of Seaweeds in Indian Subcontinent

DST-INSPIRE Faculty Award

2012-2017

35 Lakhs

2

Genotoxicity of Drinking water from Malwa Region, Punjab

UGC-BSR Start-Up Grant

2012-14

6 Lakhs

3

Phylogenetic Selection Of Target Taxa For Anti-Proliferative And Anti-Metastatic Marine Natural Products From Seaweeds Of Indian Coast

Ministry of Earth   Sciences-Drugs from the Sea Program

2014-17

40 Lakhs

4

Sequence-Based DNA Barcoding, Phylogeography and Conservation Genetics Of Selected Medicinal Plants from Indian Subcontinent

Research Seed Money program (Central University of Punjab)

2014-17

3 Lakhs

 

 

 

        

 5    

 Tracing Phylogenetic Linguistic Heritage of Indian Languages using Computational Phylogenetics


See Related TED Playlist

 ICSSR-Govt. of India

 2015-17

 7 Lakhs



    

























Research Progress in DST-INSPIRE Project:I have carried out four GPS-aided research expeditions in Western and Eastern Indian coasts and sampled approximately 1000 individual algal specimen of unique morphological features. Expeditions conducted:

Target location

Sub-locations

Period

Images

West Coast (Kochi-Kanyakumari

Vypin, Chellanam, Cheriyazheekkal, Varkkala, Vizhinjam, Kanyakumari

12-01-2015 to 16-01-2015

  INSPIRE-5

Sundarban Mangal and West Bengal Coast

Sajnekhali, Bakkhali, Sagar, Jambu Dweep, Diamond Harbor, Haldia & Digha

16-05-2014 to 27-05-2014

  INSPIRE-4

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

Port Blair, Wandoor, Tamugli Is, Red Skin Is., Viper Is, Havlock Is., Neil Is., Sound Is., Interview Is., & Car Nicobar

13-01-2014 to 17-01-2014

 INSPIRE-3

East (Coromandel) Coast of Tamil Nadu

Ennore, Chennai, Covelong, Mamallapuram, Pondichery, Cuddallore, Chidambaram, Karaikkal, Nagapattinam, Vedaranyam, S.P. Pattinam, Mandapam, Rameswaram & Dhanushkodi

09-07-2012 to 29-07-2012

 INSPIRE-2

West Coast (Goa, Karnataka & Kerala)

Arambol, Anjuna, Bat Island, Palolem, Karwar, Kundapura, Mangalore, Kannur, Tellichery, Calicut & Ponnani

18-05-2012 to 04-06-2012

 INSPIRE-1




View Sampling points-INSPIRE in a larger map


 Subsequent DNA extraction and sequencing resulted in the generation of around 1000 DNA contigs. Analysis of these sequences using various phylogenetic software suites (PAUP, MrBayes, BEAST, CodonCode Aligner, MEGA and Geneious-Pro) had been completed and 10 manuscripts from this work are currently under peer review stage at various international journals. Published works:


  1. BAST, F., KUBOTA, S. AND OKUDA, K. 2014. Phylogeographic Assessment of Panmictic Monostroma Species from Kuroshio Coast, Japan Reveals Sympatric Speciation. Journal of Applied Phycology (IF:2.5) (Accepted)
  2. BAST, F. 2014. Low-Carb High-Fat: A Paradigm Shift in Nutrition. Science Reporter Published by CSIR-NISCAIR PDF
  3. BAST, F., JOHN, A.A. AND BHUSHAN, S. 2014. Strong endemism of bloom-forming tubular Ulva in Indian west coast, with description of Ulva paschima Sp. Nov. (Ulvales, Chlorophyta. PLoS ONE (Accepted) (IF:3.73) PDF
  4. BAST, F., BHUSHAN, S AND JOHN, A.A. 2014. DNA Barcoding of a new record of epi-endophytic green algae Ulvellaleptochaete (Ulvellaceae, Chlorophyta) in India. Journal of Biosciences (Accepted) (IF:1.8) PDF
  5. BAST, F., JOHN, A.A. AND BHUSHAN, S. 2014. Cladophora goensis Sp. Nov. (Cladophorales, Ulvophyceae) –a bloom forming marine algae from Goa, India. Indian Journal of Marine Sciences (Accepted) (IF:0.57) PDF
  6. BAST, F 2014. Seaweeds in Japanese Culture: An analysis of medieval Waka poetry. The Phycologist (UK) 86:24-27ISSN:0965-5301 PDF
  7. BAST, F., BHUSHAN, S. AND JOHN, A.A. 2014. Morphological and molecular assessment of native carrageenophyteHypnea valentiae (Cystocloniaceae, Gigartinales) in Indian Subcontinent Phykos 44(1) 52-58 ISSN: 0554-1182 PDF
  8. BAST, F 2014. Seaweeds: Ancestors of land plants with rich diversity. Resonance, 19(2) 1032-1043 ISSN: 0971-8044 PDF

  9. BAST, F 2014. An Illustrated Review on Cultivation and Life History of Agronomically Important Seaplants. InSeaweed: Mineral Composition, Nutritional and Antioxidant Benefits and Agricultural Uses, Eds Vitor Hugo Pomin, 39-70. Nova Publishers, New York ISBN: 978-1-63117-571-8

Unique specimen of collected algae had been pressed and are maintaining as an annotated herbaria at the laboratory. I attended a week-long seaweed identification and phylognetics field-course at Marine Biological Association of UK, Plymouth, England organized by British Phycological Society in March, 2013. I also presented research progress of this grant in the following conferences:

·         National Conference on Recent Advances in Algology, Mycology and Plant Pathology at University of Madras Guindy Campus; 19-20 February 2014. Invited Talk: “Strong Endemism of Bloom-forming Tubular Ulva in Indian West Coast, with Description of Ulva paschima sp. nov. (Ulvales, Chlorophyta)”

·         National Conference on “Climate Change, Environmental and Sustainable Development” at Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi on 9th-10th December 2013. Oral Presentation: “Sargassum zhangii invades India”

 Also check-out press-releases section for media coverage of discoveries made in this project.

    Research Progress in UGC-BSR Project: Ground water samples were collected from more than 120 locations throughout Punjab in GPS-aided scientific explorations. Samples were tested for Electrical Conductivity, TDS, Salinity and pH. Samples with highest 20 EC values were selected for analysis for heavy metals with Atomic Absorption Spectrometer. Genotoxicity analysis of these samples using comet assay and Ames test have also been completed. 

    Other research activities: DNA sequence data from >10 geographical isolates of Tulsi (Oscimum tenuiflorum), Banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis), Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa), Betel leaves (Piper betle) and Salvadora oleoides had been generated in various phylogeography studies. Sequences have been annotated and currently in the final stage of analysis. My team is currently working on various molecular systematic studies, including that of mangroves, terrestrial algae, freshwater algae, Sarpagandha, Shankapushpa and Brahmi.



Ph.D. Supervision

S. No.

Title

Candidate

Funding Agency

Year of Submission

Status

1

Multi Targeted molecular docking of plant/algae derived natural products and its further validation on cancer cell-lines

Pushpendra Singh

ICMR-SRF

2015

Awarded

2

DNA Barcode based Identification and

Comparative Anticancer Effects of

different species of Brown Seaweed

Sargassum C. Agardh of Indian Coasts

Satej Bhushan

MoES JRF

-

Ongoing

(2013-2017)

3

Phylogeography of Ulva (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae) in Indian Subcontinent

Pooja Rani

-

-

Ongoing

(2012-17)

4

DNA barcoding and phylogeny based comparative evaluation of in vitro anti-cancer properties of Caulerpa spp. (J V Lamouroux) from Indian coasts

Richa Mehra

ICMR-JRF

-

Ongoing

(2014-19)

5

Anticancer potentials of Ulva


Digvijay Singh

ICMR-JRF

-

Ongoing

(2013-18)

6

Phylogeography of algae in Antarctica

Pushpendu Kundu

(NET Qualified)

-

Ongoing

(2013-18)

7

Phylogeography of moss from Indian Himalayas and Antarctica

Wahid Ul Rehman

UGC-NFST- JRF

-

Ongoing

(2013-18)

8

Molecular systematics of lichen photobionts from Larsemann Hills, Antarctica

Khem Chand Saini

CSIR-JRF

-

Ongoing

(2013-18)

9

Phylogeography of mangroves in Sundarbans, West Bengal

Alka rani

-

-

Ongoing

(2013-18)

M.Phil. Supervision

S. No.

Title

Candidate

Funding Agency

Year of Submission

Status

1

Effects of Insulin and Metformin on PC-3 Cell Line

Pushpendra Singh

ICMR-SRF

2011

Awarded, Currently in PhD

2

Effect of Metformin on Insulin Mediated Proliferation of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cell Lines

Seema S

ICMR-JRF

2012

Awarded, Pursuing Ph.D. At Indraprasta University, Delhi

3

Cytotoxic activity of Sargassum swartzii on PC-3 cancer cell line

Mohd. Zahid

ICMR-JRF

2012

Awarded, Pursuing Ph.D. At Delhi University

4

Phylogenetic Analysis of Ocimum tenuiflorum in Indian subcontinent

Devendra Meena

CSIR-JRF

2014

Awarded, Pursuing Ph.D. At Oxford University, UK

5

miRNA Target Prediction and Comparative miRNomics: Study in Different Cancers- Special Focus on Breast Cancer Metastasis

Bibekananda Sarkar

-

2012

Awarded, Currently in Ph.D.

6

Diversity of Green and Red Marine Macroalgae distributed in Indian West Coast using morphometry and DNA barcoding

Aijaz Ahmd

CSIR-JRF

2013    

Awarded, Currently in PhD at CDRI, Lucknow

7

DNA barcoding and phylogeography of Brown Seaweeds of Coasts of Indian Subcontinent

Satej Bhushan

MoES Project JRF

2013

Awarded, currently in PhD

8

Sequence-based phylogeography and conservation genetics of seaweeds from Indian subcontinent

Pooja Rani

-

2014

Awarded, Currently in PhD

9

Phylogeography of Ceramiales in India

Digvijay Singh

-

2015

Awarded, Currently in PhD

10

Phylogeography of Rhodymeniophyceae (Gracillaria and Grateloupia)

Pushpendu Kundu

-

2015

Awarded, Currently in PhD

11

Phylogeography and molecular systematics of mosses from the springs of Himalayas

Wahid Ul Rehman

-

2015

Awarded, Currently in PhD

12

Phylogeography of terrestrial and freshwater algae in Indian subcontinent

Khem Chand Saini

-

2015

Awarded, Currently in PhD

13

Phylogeography of mangroves in Sundarbans, West Bengal

Alka rani

-

2015

Awarded, Currently in PhD

14

Phylogeography of Cycads

Nalini Tiwari

-

-

Awarded. Currently in PhD

15

Phylogeography of Ferns in Harike Wetland

Chandanpreet Kaur

-

-

Awarded

16

Phylogeography of Ferns in Kashmir

Altaf Amin

-

-

Quit

17

Phylogeography of Pinophyta in HP

Davinder Kaur

-

-

Quit

18

Phylogeography of Cactus

Balwinder

-

-

Awarded

M.Sc. Supervision

S. No.

Title

Candidate

Funding Agency

Year of Submission

Status

1

Genotoxicity of drinking water from Malwa Region, Punjab

Ashish Kumar Pandey

-

2013

Awarded, Currently employed in Olympus Corporation

2

Phylogeography of Ficus religiosa and Ficus benghalensis in Indian Subcontinent

Sheetal Sharma

-

2014

Awarded

3

Phylogeography of Salvadora oleoides in Punjab

Navreet Kaur

-

2015

Awarded

4

Phylogeography of Betel in Indian Subcontinent

Muzamil Ahmad Rather

-

2015

Awarded

5

Phylogeography of  Brahmi in Indian Subcontinent

Meenu Rani

-

2015

Awarded

6

Phylogeography of  Shankhapushpi in Indian Subcontinent

Nisha Bansal

-

2016

Awarded

7

Phylogeography of  Sarpagandha in Indian Subcontinent

Supandeep Kaur

-

2015

Awarded

8

Phylogeography of Mentha in Indian Subcontinent

Jyotsna Devgan

-

2016

Awarded

9

Molecular systematics of family Fabaceae, tribe Detarieae

Nilanjan De

-

2016

Awarded

10

Phylogeography of Ashwagandha in Indian Subcontinent

Davinder Singh

-

2016

Awarded

11

Public acceptance of evolution in India

Heena Tahilramani

-

2016

Awarded

12

Molecular systematics of the photobionts of some lichen species from India

Anish Gupta

-

2016

Awarded

13

DNA Barcoding of the medicinal herb Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)

Anju Vijayappapanicker

2016

Awarded

14

Culture studies of photobionts of lichens from Antarctica

Sayanya Acharya

2017

Ongoing

15

Culture studies of watermelon snow algae from Antarctica

Archana Samal

2017

Ongoing






Research Internships

1

Molecular phylogenetic methods

Sushil Thakkur

-

April-May, 2016

Completed





International Exchange Programme

1

Comparative molecular systematics of selected microalgae from Bathinda and Mongolia

Odgerel Bamabndalai

NAM-RTF-DCS

April-September 2017

Completed


Recent Publications:

Please check-out publications section
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