School of Biology

Research in Biological Sciences at IISER TVM spans all scales from single molecules all the way upto ecosystems. At present this nascent group consists of 6 faculties, 13 PhD students, Post-Doctoral fellows, Technical Assistants and Project Assistants. Research activities in School of Biology are funded by IISER, Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, The Royal Society UK, CSIR, DST and DBT. Our state-of-art research laboratories are well equipped for imaging, sequencing, biochemical and biophysical work. The IISER campus under construction at Vithura located in the Western Ghats is also ideal for field biology. Our teaching curriculum aims to provide students an exposure to a broad range of subjects in biology. Our lab modules are designed to offer them an experience of carrying out research along with faculties and Ph.D students.

Animal Behaviour and Ecology Laboratory (Hema Somanathan) Hema Somanathan and her lab members work on behavioural ecology, pollination biology and sensory ecology. Their work employs field and lab experiments, genetic tools and ecological modeling. The group focuses on problems such as understanding evolution of group living in some spider species, learning and colour vision in bee pollinators, and understanding the implications of habitat fragmentation for pollination networks and gene flow.

Plant Molecular Genetics Laboratory (Kalika Prasad)
We are curious to learn more about--------
-------The opportunity to be reborn
While regeneration of complete human body plan is still in the realm of science fiction and movies, plants regeneration is a reality. Plants not only have the ability to regrow lost parts, they can even regenerate an entirely new plant from a few existing cells. de novo regeneration offers an elegant system to address number of fundamental questions related to acquisition of pluripotent state, reconstitution of stem cells, assembly of regulatory interactions that eventually lead to formation of a complete plant in the absence of embryonic positional cues. Our laboratory is engaged in probing the dynamic cellular events and underlying mechanisms of regeneration. We use cell biological tools, genetics, genomics and computational modeling to answer the questions of our interest. Our long-term goal is to underpin the basic principles and dynamics of self-organization using plant regeneration as a model.

Genome Stability Laboratory (Nishant K.T) Nishant and his lab members investigate mechanisms that maintain genome stability using primarily the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system. High-throughput genomic technologies, classical genetics and molecular biology approaches are used in these studies. Key areas of research in the laboratory are – A) Mechanisms of meiotic recombination: The group focuses on the role of the mismatch repair related factors MSH4, MSH5 in crossover formation and accurate chromosome segregation during meiosis. Errors in this process are linked to congenital birth defects in humans such as Down syndrome. B) Mechanisms of mutagenesis: The group investigates mutation mechanisms and the scale of mutation rate variation in S. cerevisiae and other eukaryotic models in different growth conditions and genetic backgrounds. These studies are relevant for understanding disease progression (e.g cancer), genome evolution and architecture.

Structural Molecular Biology(SMB) Lab (Ramanathan Natesh) Life shows its spectacular colours in its myriad diversity, yet life shares certain fundamental common elements like proteins, DNA etc. Students and researchers can build upon knowledge gained from observations in simple models to study even more complex problems. Natesh's MSB lab aims to study the individual and complex multi-protein (protein-protein, protein-non native protein etc.), protein-ligand (protein-inhibitor, protein-DNA etc.) interactions by tackling the individual problems and assembling them to get a broader view. Towards this his lab use combination of techniques viz., Protein Crystallography, Single particle Cryo Electron microscopy along with range of other molecular biology, bioinformatics, biophysical and biochemical techniques. He and his lab members currently study complexes of signal transduction proteins in Cardiovascular Disease, proteins involved in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and the structure-function studies on Chaperonin non-native complexes.

Prokaryotic Development Laboratory (Sunish Radhakrishnan) The research in the laboratory of Sunish Radhakrishnan is focused towards understanding the mechanistic principles of differentiation and division during cell cycle in prokaryotes. Specifically, his laboratory uses the genetically tractable, dimorphic bacterium, Caulobacter crescentus, as a model organism to understand the signaling mechanisms governing asymmetric cell division cycle in bacteria, with the aid of genetic and molecular tools.

Cytoskeleton and Cell cycle laboratory (Tapas Manna) Microtubules are essential cytoskeletal components required for cell proliferation and differentiation. During mitosis, spindle microtubules stay attached with two major components, kinetochore and centrosome. Proper attachments of mitotic spindles to both these sites are essential for accurate segregation of chromosomes deregulation of which leads to aneuploidy and cancer. Research interests in his laboratory are to identify key components regulating mitotic spindle assembly, kinetochore-microtubule and centrosome-microtubule interactions. His group is also investigating the regulation of centrosome division pathways. His laboratory employs biochemical, biophysical and cell biological tools for our research.

'Vanasiri' eco-evo research group (Ullasa Kodandaramaiah) Currently his main area of research is the evolutionary ecology of butterflies, although he intends to broaden the scope of his research into other areas of ecology & evolution. He has been especially interested in understanding evolutionary patterns in butterflies, and therefore phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses have been directly or indirectly part of much of his work. Processes created patterns, and therefore he has also been interested in experimental work to understand these mechanistic processes. Some of the major themes of this research so far have been phylogenetic systematics, historical biogeography, Wing-pattern evolution, Wolbachia-butterfly interactions and butterfly-hostplant interactions.

We encourage students from other institutions who are passionate about Biological research to write to us if you find our research exciting and wish to work in one of the biology labs.