Invited Speakers

Dr. Amiya Ranjan Bhowmick, Assistant Professor,  Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai

posted Oct 28, 2015, 4:54 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 11:07 AM ]

Title: Estimation of trend in population time series data using growth curve models                

Abstract: Estimating the trend in population time series data using growth curve models is a central idea in population ecology. We provide a new framework to analyze ecological time series data by fitting mathematical models governed by fractional differential equations (FDE) that are used to incorporate memory in population processes. We show that how the FDE models can be utilized to estimate trend in population time series data and is shown to have better performance than the ordinary differential equation models. The application of FDE is exemplified by analyzing time series data on two bird species Phalacrocorax carbo (Great cormorant) and Parus bicolor (Tufted titmouse) and two mammal species Castor canadensis (Beaver) and Ursus americanus (American black bear) extracted from global population dynamics database. We fit five population growth models to these data; density-independent exponential, negative density-dependent logistic and θ-logistic model, positive density-dependent exponential Allee and strong Allee model. Both ordinary and fractional counterparts of these models are fitted to the population abundance data over time. Closed form equations of both the ordinary and fractional order models are calibrated on the real time series data. Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) framework is used to estimate the model parameters and Akaike Information Criterion is used to select the best model. Estimating the return rate for each population we show that, populations, governed by FDE, return to the stable equilibrium faster than ordinary differential equation model. This demonstrates a synergistic interplay between memory and stability in natural populations.

Prof. Ashok K. Giri, Professor, Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata

posted Oct 28, 2015, 4:50 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 11:05 AM ]

Title: Arsenic Contamination in Ground water and Its Impact on Human Health: How Safe Are We?                                    

Abstract: More than 150 million individuals are exposed arsenic mainly through drinking water throughout the world.  In West Bengal, India over 26 million people are chronically exposed to arsenic through drinking water. Since 15 to 20% arsenic exposed individuals develop arsenic-induced skin lesions, it is assumed that genetic variation might play an important role for this arsenic susceptibility. An extensive study was carried out to assess the arsenic induced health effects and genetic damage in the skin lesions and no skin lesions individuals exposed to similar arsenic contaminated water. Different skin cancers observed in this population are the basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and in situ carcinoma i.e. Bowen’s diseases. Incidence of health effects was significantly high in skin lesions individuals compared to no skin lesions group. The genetic susceptibility studies were carried out through the study of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the GST group genes, p53, PNP, ERCC2 and XRCC3 as they might be involved arsenic metabolism and detoxification. p53 codon 72 Arg/Arg genotype, ERCC2 codon 751 Lys/Lys genotype, three SNPs of PNP and T241M polymorphism in XRCC3 were significantly high in the skin lesions group compared to that of the no skin lesions individuals. DNA repair deficiency study using Challenge assay proved strong evidence that the individuals with arsenic-induced skin lesions had suboptimal DNA repair capacity. In a two wave cross sectional epidemiological study, where same group of individuals were surveyed at two time points (2005-06 and 2010-11), we found decrease in water arsenic content helped to reduce only the genetic damage and dermatological disorders but the non-dermatological disorders were irreversible. Attempts have also been made to explore the epigenetic alterations that could lead to arsenic induced DNA damage and carcinogenic outcomes. We have found that arsenic induced epigenetic modulation leads to alteration in expression profile of key tumour suppressor genes like p16 and DAPK and DNA repair gene ERCC2.  In our arsenic mitigation program we have observed that rice has a significant contribution towards arsenic exposure when there is no arsenic in the drinking water and arsenic exposure through rice alone is sufficient to induce genetic damage in human.

Prof. Fuwa Nobuhiko, Professor, Graduate School of AsiaPacific Studies, Waseda University, Japan

posted Oct 24, 2015, 8:49 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 11:24 PM ]

Title: Introducing SRI (System of Rice Intensification) Cultivation in West Bengal: Its potential significance and preliminary outcomes                        

Abstract: We discuss potential significance of the “System of Rice Intensification”, a set of rice cultivation practices that could achieve higher yields with lower production inputs. We then report on the initial results from experimental introduction of SRI conducted in 15 villages in West Bengal. In each village, a farmer willing to introduce SRI on his own plot was identified and technical assistance was provided. We can observe from those farmers’ plots that SRI practice leads to a substantial increase in yield (between 20 to 60%) with cost savings. 

Despite such encouraging initial results and 4 years after our initial introduction of SRI to those villages, only a very small fraction of the farmers in the same villages have so far adopted SRI, and many of the farmers remain skeptical about the technology. We lay out some alternative hypotheses about why farmers’ adoption has been slow, based on both our farmer interviews as well as on the existing literature mainly drawn from agricultural economics. Because some SRI practices (e.g., planting a young, single seedling per hill, periodical draining of water from rice fields, etc.) go against the conventional wisdom in rice farming, farmers tend to remain skeptical about the viability of SRI practices while those experimental farmers who have tried SRI under our experiment tend to continue practicing SRI even if we no longer provide assistance.

Dr. Ilse Koehler Rollefson, Project Coordinator, League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development, Germany

posted Oct 2, 2015, 11:44 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 11:11 PM ]

       Title: India's Animal Cultures: Guardians of Biodiversity   

AbstractIndia’s “animal cultures” are one of its greatest assets because they combine food production with biodiversity conservation. Who are they, how do they do this and what is their economic and ecological significance at national level? These topics will be discussed and presented together with some suggestions how to support them in this role and thereby secure both food security and conservation of biodiversity in India.

Prof. Joydev Chattopadhyay, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

posted Oct 2, 2015, 1:04 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 4:36 AM ]

TitleRevisited Fisher’s equation in a new outlook: A fractional derivative approach                                        

Abstract: The well-known Fisher equation with fractional derivative is considered to provide some characteristics of memory embedded into the system. The modified model is analyzed both analytically and numerically. A comparatively new technique residual power series method is used for finding approximate solutions of the modified Fisher model. A new technique combining Sinc-collocation and finite difference method is used for numerical study. The abundance of the bird species Phalacrocorax carbois considered as a test bed to validate the model outcome using estimated parameters. We conjecture non-diffusive and diffusive fractional Fisher equation represents the same dynamics in the interval (memory index, α∈(0.8384,0.9986)). We also observe that when the value of memory index is close to zero, the solutions bifurcate and produce a wave-like pattern. We conclude that the survivability of the species increases for long range memory index. These findings are similar to Fisher observation and act in a similar fashion that advantageous genes do.

Dr. K. V. Sankaran, ex-Director, Kerala Forest Research Institute

posted Oct 2, 2015, 1:02 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 4:25 AM ]

TitleInvasive alien trees and their management in India

Abstract: Invasive alien species (IAS) are non-native plants, animals and microbes whose introduction into new environments will cause economic or ecological harm and/or harm to human health. Globally, they have been identified as one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. Invasive alien plants are known to invade a variety of ecosystems, spread quickly, displace native plants, monopolize resources and upset ecological equilibrium of the invaded area. Economic damage due to IAS is estimated to be 1.4 trillion dollars globally which equals 5% of the global economy. As in other parts of the world, a wide spectrum of alien plants has been introduced into India either intentionally or inadvertently – the latter mainly promoted byinternational trade and travel. However, our knowledge on introduced trees which have become invasive in the country is patchy. Of these, Acacia mearnsii, Prosopsisjuliflora andLeucaenaleucocephala deserve special mention since they are already widespread and managing them would be a challenge.And, socio-economic relevance of some of these treeswill have to be considered before control methods are attempted. However, management of a few species such as Sennaspectabilisand Maesopsiseminii, natives of tropical America, may still be possible since invasiveness of these trees has been noticed only recently and their spread is currently limited.Attention should also be focused to prevent invasion by any new tree species through risk analysis and adoption of proper quarantine methods. Success of managing plant invasions (through physical, chemical and biological methods) is dependent on several factors including proper implementation of methods. However, a lack of tools, information and expertisefrustratesthis.It is also necessary to raise awareness on the damages due to invasive species among all concerned. The paper will discuss these concerns and highlight the need of a Govt. policy to deal with IAS in the country.

Dr. Lalit Kumar, Senior Scientist , ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research

posted Oct 2, 2015, 1:01 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 4:08 AM ]

Title: Secondary metabolite of plants: role in survival of plants against biotic stresses and maintaining ecosystem biodiversity

Abstract: Animals, plants and microorganisms are important elements of every natural ecosystem. These living creatures interact continuously in a variety of complex relationships under fluctuating environmental conditions, in order to maintain or increase stability within the ecosystem. Plants are known to interact with other component of ecosystem by being release of certain chemicals via their secondary metabolic reactions which are known to involved in the environmental complex as a manager of natural ecosystems. Secondary metabolites are known to act as important defenses agents against predators, competitors and pathogens. Since, microorganism such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes are integral parts of agro-ecosystems hence these organisms affect the agro-ecosystems with their harmfull, neutral or beneficial effects thus the pivotal roles of secondary metabolites in the determination of plant diversity, dominance, succession, and climax of natural vegetation and in the plant productivity of agro-ecosystems can not be ignored. For better agro-ecosystems productivity control of predators, weeds and disease-causing organisms is always remained an essential component in every crop production system. Since World War II, numerous synthetic pesticides have been developed and used for control of crop pests. But unfortunately most of the chemical pesticides killed not only the target species of pests but also other non-harmful or beneficial organisms. Apart from this the overuse of synthetic agrochemicals often causes environmental hazards, an imbalance of soil microorganisms, nutrient deficiency, and change of soil physicochemical properties, resulting not only in a decrease of crop productivity but also proved detrimental to the microbial biodiversity in agro-ecosystems. The incorporation of allelopathic substances into agricultural management may reduce the use of synthetic herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides and lessen environmental deterioration. Scientists in many different habitats around the world have demonstrated the role of secondary metabolites (Allelopathic compounds) of plants in mitigating biotic stresses such as weed infestation, predators and pathogen attack etc. It is known that most volatile compounds, such as terpenoids, are released from plants in drought areas. In contrast, water-borne phytotoxins, such as phenolics, flavonoids, or alkaloids, are released from plants in humid zone areas. Studies conducted at IIPR, Kanpur also revealed good control of fungal diseases of pulse crops by root exuded allelochemicals of sorghum plants whereas, the chemicals released via the root of sesame plant was found very active against purple nutsedge and other weeds. Thus, the allelopathic based approaches has immense applicability in plant biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture. For future, better understanding about the diversity of secondary metabolites and what environmental factors trigger increased production of these compounds, novel and ecologically relevant methodologies are needed to develop and subsequently applied to studies of allelopathy, antipredation, anifouling, antimicrobial, and other possible functions of secondary metabolites. The assumption is that if we can understand the function of these molecules and how they can alter biodiversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem level, we can ultimately underpin the processes that underlie ecosystem functionality.

Dr. Partha Sarathi Bhattacharya, Doctor, Institute of Pulmocare & Research CB -16, Sec I, salt Lake, Kolkata

posted Oct 2, 2015, 12:57 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 31, 2015, 3:38 AM ]

TitleBiodiversity Issues and Related Lungs Diseases                                         

Abstract: On our mother earth the biodiversity expands from the smallest of the microbes to the largest of the animals. Constant and dynamic symbiosis keeps the living world alive and so called ‘healthy’. This symbiosis is affected with changes in the inanimate world including the climate.

Lungs remain two vital organs to communicate with micro and macro environment surrounding us. Diversity of lung microbes, their interactive symbiotic and dysbiotic relationship are fascinating and enormously important in human life and health. 

Prof. Priya Davider, Professor, Pondicherry University

posted Oct 2, 2015, 12:55 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 30, 2015, 10:06 PM ]

Title: Plant-pollinator mutualisms as model system for biodiversity assessments and valuations                                                        

AbstractPollination has a major to play in the reproduction of angiosperms in natural and human managed ecosystems. Plant-pollinator mutualisms are also excellent systems to assess biodiversity and valuate ecosystem services. The contributions of plant-pollinator mutualisms in biodiversity research are:  1. Valuation of pollination services by wild and managed pollinators to commercially important crops, 2. Measuring risk of spread of transgenes spread to wild relatives of crop plants, and 3. Assessing plant-pollinator networks in ecosystem function. Case studies will be presented to illustrate these different aspects.

Dr. Ramrup Sarkar, Senior Scientist, CSIR - National Chemical Laboratory Pune, India

posted Oct 2, 2015, 12:52 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 3:49 AM ]

Title: Understanding Complex Biochemical Pathways and Identification of Drug Targets                                       

AbstractHistorically human population is under threat of different diseases, which eventually led to discovery of drugs/medicines for better treatment and cure. With the advent of science and technology drug research, mostly depending on chemistry and biology, became an interdisciplinary endeavor with an industrial base. Moreover, the traditional approaches that have prevailed in drug discovery have resulted in failure of many promising drug candidates in the last few decades. Though in recent years, we have gained significant understanding about the diseases, but still the lack of understanding of the complex biological processes and lack of knowledge about biochemical pathways often led to unforeseen adverse effects as well as unacceptable toxicity profiles. In this talk, I will discuss these perspectives comparing the traditional and modern methods of drug discovery and will present few stories related to the drug target identification, the works we are continuing in our group.

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