History of Phycology Section

The school of phycology at Burdwan University was established only after the joining of Pranjit Sarma as a faculty member in the Department of Botany. It is one of the very few centers in India where Phycology is taught as special paper. The special paper “Phycology” was introduced in 1976 in this department.

Pranjit Sarma joined in this department 1964. He is one of the two teachers who initiated this Department under the leadership of Prof. Param Nath Bhaduri. Pranjit Sarma had the privilege of having been a student of Prof. A. K. M. Nurul Islam of Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan), an accredited phycologist of international repute. P. Sarma with a sound training in algal taxonomy and ecology took initiatives in the direction of establishing the school of Phycology at Burdwan. He confined himself on the taxonomy of filamentous green algae of West Bengal. Contributions of Professor P. Sarma and his students may broadly be divided into three phases: (i) The work with Prof. Islam of Bangladesh as a post graduate student, (ii) The work with Prof. V.J. Chapman in New Zealand as a Commonwealth Fellow, and (iii) The works with his students after coming back from New Zealand.

The published work with Prof. Islam was mainly the outcome of his dissertation work on Oedogoniales of Bangladesh at M. Sc. stage. In his work he contributed a new species and a new variety of Bulbochaete and four new species including two terrestrial forms, 14 new varieties and 2 new formae of Oedogonium.

As a commonwealth fellow he worked on freshwater Chaetophorales with Prof. V. J. Chapman. The whole work was published as “Freshwater Chaetophorales of New Zealand” (J. Cramer, Berlin) in the year 1986. In this work he described altogether 83 taxa (72 spp. and 11 varieties/formae) belonging to 26 genera. Of these 13 taxa were described as new to science. Apart from this monographic account a significant quantum of work was also done on other groups as well. These works included the description of a new species of Sphaeroplea (S. chapmanii Sarma).

 After his return to Burdwan he introduced Phycology as a subject of specialization in post graduate curriculum of this university in 1976.  Many researchers like G. Mustafa, D.D. Mukherjee, A.N. Kargupta & A.K. Chakraborty joined his team of research and started working on filamentous green algae of different districts of West Bengal. While Kargupta concentrated more on Zygnemataceae, other workers concentrated on Oedogoniales, Chaetophorales, Ulotrichales & Cladophorales. One of his students of Phycology special paper, B.K. Dutta however, worked on marine algae at CSMCRI Bhavnagar and later joined Vivekananda Institute of Biotechnology, Nimpith, West Bengal, where he concentrated his studies on Azolla as biofertilizer. He also investigated the microbial flora of the neighbouring islands. A.N. Kargupta, a UGC career awardee, after getting his doctoral degree under Prof. Sarma established a good taxonomic laboratory at L.N. Mithila University Darbhanga. Besides making a revised key of Indian species (Kargupta et al 1987) he monographed the genus Spirogyra in West Bengal (Kargupta & Sarma 1992). Some younger researchers like J.P. Keshri & Mrs. Aparna Karmokar (Dey) worked under the supervision of P. Sarma. J.P. Keshri worked on filamentous green algae of Midnapur district & Mrs. Karmokar on the filamentous green algae of Malda district of West Bengal.

After joining the department as a faculty member in 1997 J.P. Keshri included desmids and Cyanobacteria in the schedule. Over 500 desmid taxa have been worked in the mean time. Cyanobacterial taxa have been worked out in culture and over 300 taxa have been investigated. A culture collection of freshwater algae has also been established presently with over 75 strains in live cultures. Recently a monograph “The genus Bulbochaete in West Bengal” has been published (2008) authored by J. P. Keshri (Bibliotheca Phycologica, Band 114 Germany). Besides these works, presently two monographs on Oedogonium, and Chaetophorales respectively are awaiting press release. Presently three full time and three part time research scholars are working under his on different aspects of Phycology. He has completed two research Project (one Minor and one Major both funded by UGC) and one Major research Project (UGC) has recently been awarded to him (2009).

The present faculties of this section are G. Mustafa, A. K. Chakraborty and J. P. Keshri all are being trained with Prof. P. Sarma, founder of this section.


Taxa named after Prof. Pranjit Sarma


Given by

Mastogloia sarmae

Sarode & Kamat 1984

Bulbochaete dispar var. samae

Kargupta 1996

Stigeoclonium sarmae

Islam & Khan 1998

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