Centre for Conservation and Utilisation of blue Green Algae (CCUBGA), IARI, New Delhi

Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue green algae, form an unusually well defined group of organisms of undoubted antiquity. These are morphologically and developmentally, one of the most diverse groups of prokaryotes whose classification is in accordance with botanical and bacterial codes, which is almost entirely based upon phenotypic characters. 

Dr. M. S. Randhawa
Dr. M. S. Randhawa
Organized research on these organisms came  into existence at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi in 1956 under the leadership of Late Dr. M.S. Randhawa who initiated an ad-hoc research scheme on genetic variability in algae. The responsibility of leading the algal research was entrusted to Late Dr. G.S. Venkataraman, who was instrumental in conceiving the blue print of a purposeful programme which developed into a strong school of Agricultural Algology. Since then, the research activities in Algology have expanded in several directions in the country. The initiation of Multi-Institutional “All India Coordinated Project on Algae for Fertilizer, Feed and Fuel in 1976 by the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India marked an important milestone in enabling the transfer of the algal biofertilizer technology developed at IARI under the leadership of Late Dr. G. S. Venkataraman to the farmers in many parts of country. During the last four decades, there has been natural explosion of information on various aspects of  these organisms. Cyanobacterial biomass is considered since long as an alternative source of protein which could supplement conventional food and feed. Their practical uses include reclamation of waste water, and production of a variety of commercial chemicals such as lipids, polysaccharides, pigments, vitamins, antibiotics, enzymes, cell growth promoters, toxins and other compounds of industrial and pharmaceutical interest. The inhibitory properties of sulfolipids, having cytopathic effects on the human immuno deficiency viruses (HIV), have also been reported.

Dr. G.S. Venkataraman
  Dr. G.S. Venkataraman
Recognizing the existence of a remarkable biodiversity, importance of algal resources in our national economy and the need for preserving the germplasm, the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, identified blue green algal research as a priority area of high potential and sponsored and funded National Facility for Blue Green Algal Collection at IARI, New Delhi during seventh Five Year Plan (1986) which was extended during VIII Plan. The facility was formally inaugurated by Hon’ble Sh. K. R. Narayanan, the then Minister of State for Science and Technology on 31.3.1989. It has its own sanctioned staff for scientists, Technical persons, Administrative and supporting staff. During the VIII Five Year Plan, the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India continued its financial support to further strengthen it. The progress of the facility was regularly evaluated by an Executive Committee headed by Director, IARI. As proposed by the Director, IARI and approved by the Executive Committee of the Facility and Board of Management of IARI with approval from ICAR, The facility was renamed as “National Centre for Conservation and Utilisation of Blue Green Algae (NCCUBGA) during 1996. As per MOU signed between DBT and IARI, The Centre was taken over by IARI from April, 1997. DBT further continued its support in terms of recurring expenditure during the 9th Five Year Plan jointly supported by IARI. This facility was renamed as Centre for Conservation and Utilisation of Blue Green Algae (CCUBGA, IARI, New Delhi).

The main objectives of the centre have been
  • Strengthening of germplasm collection of blue green algae (BGA) at the Centre
  • Basic and applied research on physiology, ecology and related aspects including strain selection and improvement for nitrogen fixing potential, potential for value addition (biopolymers, natural colours, proteins, lipids), source of food, feed, and biochemicals
  • Morpho-physiological and molecular characterization, Biodiversity analysis using DNA finger printing techniques (RAPD, RFLP, 16SrRNA gene amplification and AFLP) for improved cataloguing, identification and phylogenetic relatedness
  • Bioprospecting and allele mining for abiotic stress tolerance in blue green algae
  • Improving the efficiency of BGA biofertilizer and development of protocols for commercialization and mass production
  • Role of blue green algae in Integrated Nutrient Management and organic farming under rice wheat cropping system, Waste water management and N and P scavenging potential , scaling up under raceway system or photobioreactors
  • Field trials/ Demonstration on use of BGA biofertilizers for rice crop
  • Resource centre for supply of BGA cultures, training and extension activities as well as consultancy
Currently the centre was headed  by Dr. Dolly Wattal Dhar, Incharge, CCUBGA, IARI, New Delhi.

Dr. Dolly Wattal Dhar, Professor and Principal Scientist, Incharge: Algal Centre, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.
Dr. Dolly Wattal Dhar
Dr. Dolly Wattal Dhar, Professor and Principal Scientist, Incharge: Algal Centre, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.
Dr. Dolly Wattal Dhar, has extensive experience in the area of algology and microbiology and has publications in various  National and International journals including Biology and Fertility of Soils, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Current Science etc. She was awarded best teacher award in the year 2008-2009 at Post Graduate School, IARI, Pusa New Delhi and Indo Danish Project Award on “High rate algal biomass production for food, feed, biochemicals and biofuels” with Prof. Debabrata Das, and Prof. Irini Angelidaki funded by DBT, Govt. of India. She is Incharge, Germplasm, CCUBGA (Centre for Conservation and Utilisation of Blue Green Algae at IARI, New Delhi) which has been recognized as National Repository under Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Government of India. She is also working as Chairperson, Women Cell of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.