The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has
inaugurated a facility for 'Ancient DNA studies' in the
city. This is the first facility of its kind in the country.
The other three laboratories of this kind exist in Germany,
the UK and the USA which have been set up to understand
the evolutionary history of man in India using molecular
The research being done at this facility will cover aspects
such as the existence of life on planets like Mars, the
origin of fatal diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and other
Dr MK Bhan, secretary, department of biotechnology, inaugurated
the facility and said that the 'Ancient DNA' laboratory
will examine the genomic contribution of the ancient human
population. This is a joint effort by the department of
biotechnology (DBT) and the Council of Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR), he added.
According to CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh, CCMB in association
with the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) is working
on creating a database pertaining to genomic diversity
of ancient populations on the Indian sub-continent. He
said the preparatory work had already been initiated and
the database is expected to be in place in a year's time.
Dr Singh said, ancient DNA studies help in understanding
the biodiversity and the pattern of human health that
have unfolded in India in the last 20,000 years and research
on ancient DNA helps to understand problems in diverse
areas such as microbiology, astrobiology and archaeology,
Lalji said CCMB recently conducted an analysis of the
skeletal remains found in Roopkund, (Mystery Lake) Uttaranchal,
and has identified the entire mitochondria in about 30-odd
samples taken from the lake. He said the efforts to extract
and amplify DNA from these remains were fruitful.
CCMB has also initiated a comprehensive project to study
all the tribes
of India. Statistically there are about 600 known tribal
populations and 700 primitive tribes. CCMB has analysed
about 8,000 DNA samples of these tribal populations.