History of Soil Microbiology in India

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History of Soil Microbiology in India

During last few decades greater emphasis has been given on some of the important aspects in soil microbiology in India which are:

  1. Characterization of N2 fixing Azotobacter, Rhizobium, Beijerinckia, BGA etc.

  2. Studies on P- solubilizing bacteria and fungi, celluloytic microorganisms, silage production role of humic acid etc.

  3. Establishment (1979) of All-India Coordinated Project (AICP) on BNF at IARI and field oriented work on BNF.

  4. Standardization of methods of bio-inoculants application to seed and soil.

  5. Seed bacterization and response of crops to bio-inoculants.


Some of the most important contributions made on the different aspects in the field of soil microbiology by the scientists and research institutes in the country are highlighted in the following paragraphs:

C. N. Acharya (1940) contributed towards the better utilization of Agricultural wastes for the production of biogas & compost.

Sundara Rao (1962) established the "Division of Microbiology" at IARI New Delhi.

Madhok (Punjab) introduced the practice of using bacterial cultures for berseem.

Sanyasi Raju & Rajagopalan (Coimbatore) initiated the research work on root nodulation in legumes at Madras, Agil. College.

P. K. Dey (West Bengal) worked on free living N2 fixing organisms viz Azotobacter, Beijerinckia and BGA in rice fields and discovered N2 fixation by BGA in paddy.

M.O.P. lyengar (Madras Univ.) laid foundation stone of algal research in India.

Sadasivan (Madras) and Saxena (Allahabad) studied ecology and physiology of soil fungi along with rhizosphere phenomenon.

Singh B.N. pioneering research on soil protozoa in India.

Bhar J. V. (Bangalore) initiated work on the role of earthworms in the maintenance of soil fertility, biological nitrogen fixation and microbiology of phyllosphere.

Thirumalacher (Hindustan Antibiotics, Pune) developed antifungal antibiotics like Haymycin and Aureofungin.

Nandi (Bose Res. Institute, Calcutta) worked on production technology of antibiotics and bacterial fertilizers (Biofertilizers).

Desikachray (Madras) studied taxonomy of BGA in India.

Thomas (BARC, Mumbai) studied physiology of algae in India.

Raja Rammohan Rao (CRRI, Cuttak) studied on rhizosphere nitrogen fixation phenomenon.

Bhagyaraj (GKVK, Bangalore) studied Mycorrhiza and N2 fixation interactions.

Verma (JNU, Delhi) studied / worked on sulphur metabolism.

Subramaniam & Mahadevan (Univ. Madras) studied fundamental aspects of N2 fixation.

Modi, Sushil Kumar, Das and Thomas carried research on "Genetics of "Nif" gene in relation to BNF by Rhizobium, Azospirillum and Kelbsiella.

Bharadwaj (Palampur) studied / worked on microbiology of organic matter decomposition & role of celluloytic microorganisms.

Gaur (IARI) and Mishra (Hissar) studied the role of celluloytic microorganisms in accelerating the process of composting and compost making.

Karla and Garcha (Ludhiana) studied the phenomenon of cellulose degradation and legume bacteriology.

Ranganathan & Nellakantan (NDRI, Karnal) worked on silage microbiology and process of anaerobic decomposition in biogas production.

Vadher, Gupta, Sethunatathan and Raghu
studied role of soil enzymes and microbiology of pesticide degradation in soil.

Dart & Wani
(non symbiotic N2 fixation), Thomas, Kumar Rao, Nambiar and Rupela (symbiotic N2 fixation) and Krishna (VAM fungi), these scientist at ICRISAT, Hyderabad work on symbiotic & non-symbiotic N2 fixation in gram, groundnut, arhar, sorghum and millets.

N. V. Joshi (1920) reported first isolation and identification of Rhizobium from different cultivated legumes

Gangulee and Madhok, studied physiology of Rhizobium and production of Rhizobium inoculants.

Sen and Pal (1957) studied solubilization of phosphate by soil microorganisms.

A. Sankaran (1958) standardized quality of legume inoculants for first time in India.

P. K. Dey and R. Bhattacharya isolated for the first time a new, non-symbiotic N2 fixing bacterium Derixa gummosa in the world.

V. Iswaran (1959) reported the use of Indian peat as carrier for Biofertilizers production.

Dube J. N. (1975) reported coal (wood-coal), an alternative to peat as carrier material for biofertilizer production.

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