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Featured articles contributed by faculty, alumni, students

Featured articles

Research and publication facilities in the Department during the predigital era

K. R. Shivanna,  Department of Botany,  University of Delhi

    Digital era began in late 1980s/early 1990s with a series of rapid technological advances following the availability of fax, internet, email, photocopying, computer and mobile devices, search engines, social networking, websites and computing clouds etc. It brought about revolutionary changes not only in conducting research but also in publication of research papers and finalization of theses. Although younger generation is very familiar with these advances, many of them may not be aware of the kind of facilities available in the Department during predigital era.

A botanist's tale of two cities

Gita Mathur, Department of Botany, Gargi College, University of Delhi

    The landscape drastically changed as I went from Neem trees of Delhi to Rain trees of Bengaluru. As botanists we always notice the vegetation of any place we visit. In the last few years I visited Bengaluru frequently and noted many botanically interesting phenomena like some species of plants growing in Delhi and Bengaluru look very different while other species look similar. The trees in Bengaluru are different in morphology from the ones growing in Delhi. Their flowering time is also different. There are many plant species which I have seen only in Bengaluru. I have been fascinated by these observations and hence conducted a dedicated study. Correlation of climatic conditions, edaphic conditions and morphological adaptations in plants is necessary to develop a clear understanding. As I was to visit Bengaluru regularly, I took up a one-semester sabbatical project to study the plants. The study involved observing and recording trees in both the cities. Many other interesting observations during this study made me write this article for readers of Botanica.  This is not a research paper but an article to inspire young readers about observing and studying the plant world. Selecting and working on a nature based study with designing of simple experiments and analytical techniques. Student-project ideas from this article for undergraduate level can also be rewarding.

Arbuscular mycorrhiza-based approach in remediation of arsenic stress

Sarda Devi Thokchom, Samta Gupta & Rupam Kapoor, Department of Botany, University of Delhi

    Arsenic, a carcinogenic and hazardous compound, poses a global threat hampering the survival of millions of people owing to the high health risk resulting from exposure to arsenic. It is introduced into soil and groundwater during weathering of rocks and other minerals followed by consequent leaching and runoff. The extensive use of groundwater contaminated with arsenic for irrigation purposes in crop fields results in increased arsenic accumulation into the edible parts of food crops thus permitting its entrance into the food chain, consequently risking millions of lives. While remediation techniques based on chemicals have proved to be inadequate in reducing arsenic toxicity, usage of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in mitigation of arsenic stress is an efficient and reliable approach. The status of arsenic contamination in India and the role of mycorrhizal fungi in alleviation of arsenic stress are briefly discussed in this article.

Viruses: an enigmatic threat

Sunila Khurana & Sachin Kumar, Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi

   In recent years, the world has witnessed the biggest attack by the invisible, enigmatic enemy: the Viruses. They are pathogenic in nature and are the causal agent behind several life-threatening human diseases like smallpox, rabies, influenza, polio, hepatitis and COVID-19. The numerical data of human deaths caused by viral diseases is heart pounding. Almost 100 years back influenza pandemic (1918-19) killed more than 50 million people (Liang et al., 2021). More than 5 million people died from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak (2019). Viruses have killed more people in absolute numbers than any other disease outbreak in history. This clearly justifies the quote by a brilliant scientist, Joshua Lederberg, “The single biggest threat to man's continued dominance on the planet is the virus”, who got the Nobel Prize at the age of 33.

A botanical odyssey: unveiling the hidden treasures of Himachal’s grandeur and igniting scientific curiosity

Anishya, Shruti Kasana & Prem Lal Uniyal, Department of Botany, University of Delhi

    Field excursions hold a revered place in the vast tapestry of scientific exploration, offering an unparalleled opportunity to witness nature's wonders firsthand. For botanists, these excursions are akin to a sacred pilgrimage, providing a profound understanding of plants' intricate and diverse world that no textbook can truly capture. In the ever-evolving realm of botanical studies, it stands as an irreplaceable cornerstone, offering students an unparalleled opportunity to transcend the confines of textbooks and embrace the living, breathing tapestry of the natural world. These immersive experiences are not merely supplementary activities but rather transformative journeys that ignite scientific curiosity, cultivate practical skills, and foster a profound appreciation for the intricate web of life that sustains our planet.

Spinning Tales: History of Silkworm Domestication and impact on Insect-Plant Relationships

Parul Bhardwaj  & Sochanngam Kashung, 

1. Department of Botany, BCAS, University of Delhi, 2. Department of Botany, DMCS, Dhanamanjuri University, Manipur



    The process of domestication can intricately shape the dynamics between species, impacting both their genetic makeup and broader ecological interactions. It represents an evolutionary process governed by artificial selection which is often anthropogenic. As the only lepidopteran species to be entirely domesticated, the economically important silkworm Bombyx mori serves as an exceptional model to understand spatial and chronological origin and process of domestication. Among the less popular non-mulberry silkworms; the Eri silkworm, Samia ricini and oak Tasar Antheraea pernyi are domesticated from their wild ancestors. The endemic tritrophic interactions associated with wild ancestors is largely unknown when it comes to lepidoptera-host plant associations especially non-mulberry silkworms. Previous reports have suggested that mulberry silkworm domestication shares several features with crop domestication. In case of plants, genes associated with herbivory are more prevalent in the wild form. Differential responses of herbivores to wild progenitors and domesticated crops offers perspective on how host plant domestication alters species interactions. Reciprocal studies can be conducted to understand effect of insect domestication on such interactions. With the use of large scale pan-genome studies several domestication-associated genes have been identified in B. mori which show enhanced expression in the silk gland, midgut, and testis. Though domestication-associated genes are being increasingly characterized not much is known about their role in ecological interactions. This information may have applications in insect rearing for facilitating the use of silkworms as efficient model systems and bioreactors.

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