Stress Biology Research Group

Dr Bimalendu B. Nath embarked on Chironomidology research in the early 90’s as an independent researcher and began his exploration of chironomid midges to understand its remarkable ability to thrive under extreme environmental conditions. Having established the inbred line of an Oriental midge species – Chironomus ramosus and developing an in-house mass-rearing facility, he went on to address relevant questions on biotic and abiotic stress tolerance of chironomid midge. From a humble beginning with only a handful of graduate students and trainees at the Department of Zoology, University of Pune (now renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India), the Stress Biology Research Group (SBRG) expanded through the joint efforts and commitments of many doctoral students, research fellows and assistants, post-doctoral fellows, collaborators and peers.

Over the years, SBRG has published a number of papers on chironomid midges which evolved during Jurassic-Cretaceous period, indicating how these ancestral group of dipteran insects withstand hostile environmental stress regime. SBRG is interested in understanding the cellular, molecular, genetic, biochemical and whole-organismal responses and tolerance towards various abiotic stressors like desiccation, radiation, hypoxia as well as temperature-induced stress. Parallel to this, SBRG also uses Drosophila as an additional model organism which belongs to the same taxonomic group as Chironomus (insect order Diptera), although drosophilid flies evolved much later than the chironomid midges. The SBRG has envisaged that through a comparative investigation of stress induced adaptive processes, an evolutionary insight could be gained about the biology of the ancient extremophilic chironomid midges. We use a comprehensive approach through cell and molecular biology, biochemical, biophysical and computational biology for the integration of data from different platforms to validate hypotheses. The SBRG is open for collaboration to strengthen stress biology research through multi-disciplinary approaches in areas like climate change induced stress tolerance mechanism using Chironomus as a model system.