After a survey covering over 200 institutes, the BioSpectrum magazine has ranked TNAU sixth among the top biotech institutes in the country. The selection was based on four parameters of faculty, infrastructure, industry interaction and placement.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, has been ranked sixth among the top 20 public biotech institutes in the country by the BioSpectrum magazine.

The achievements of the Centre for Plant Molecular Biology of the university is the primary reason for the high ranking, says TNAU vice-chancellor P. Murugesa Boopathi.

The Centre's Director, R. Samiyappan, says, “The major thrust is to provide quality education to create highly-skilled manpower in biotechnology and bioinformatics. Another thrust area is the development of novel crop plant varieties with improved agronomic and nutritional quality with a view to improving the food security and status of farmers.”

The scientists of the centre have, under public-private partnership mode, developed Bt versions of four region-specific varieties of Brinjal expressing resistance to fruit and shoot borer pest.

The university was also the first to clone a new Bt gene cry2Ai which has the potential to control economically important crop pests. Using RNA-interference technology, scientists have made major breakthroughs in introducing resistance to many viruses in various crops.

With regard to infrastructure, the centre is equipped with a 15,000-sqft state-of-the-art laboratory housing a modern tissue culture laboratory, transformation laboratory, molecular market technology laboratory, central instrumentation facility, bioinformatics unit, and a transgenic greenhouse complex.

The Department of Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology that functions under the aegis of the centre offers a B. Tech. in Biotechnology, a B. Tech. in Bioinformatics, an M.Sc. in Biotechnology, and a Ph.D. programme.

V. Udayasuriyan, Head of the Department, says the future thrust areas include development of rice genotypes resistant to biotic stresses, tolerant to salinity and flooding, cotton with drought tolerance and fibre quality, and rice with enhanced iron and pro-vitamin A content, among others.

The magazine had conducted an extensive nationwide survey covering over 200 institutes. Selection was based on four parameters of faculty, infrastructure, industry interaction and placement.

TNAU has been ranked fourth in terms of faculty with a score of 32.51. It stood seventh in terms of infrastructure with a score of 16.60. In terms of industry interaction the position was sixth with a score of 9.73. With a score of 31.69 it stood fifth in placement, taking its overall ranking to six.

There are only two other institutes from the south featuring in the list. The School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, is ranked third, and the Department of Biotechnology, Cochin University of Science and Technology, in rank 16.