A biotechnology seminar on ‘Plants and their medicinal properties’ was organised by the Regional Science Centre (RSC) and Planetarium at the centre hall here on Tuesday.

The seminar, part of the Indo-American cultural exchange programme, was organised for biology teachers of higher secondary schools in the district.

Leading the session, Eve Syrkin Wurtele, professor of Cell Biology in the Department of Genetics, Iowa State University, U.S., presented a paper on how certain plants produce secondary metabolites, which had great commercial value for their medicinal properties.

Dr. Wurtele, winner of the Women of Innovation Award for Research Innovations and Leadership instituted by the Technology Association of Iowa for the year 2012, spoke on the scope for making biology an interesting subject for students at the school level with the use of various techniques.

She said the subject could be taught in a more engaging manner if emerging technologies, including 3D videos, were used in classrooms.

Animation videos

Processes such as light reaction and time sequencing could be made more interesting with the use of animation videos and posters, she said.

Dr. Wurtele also spoke on the possibilities of using photographs taken with electron microscopes in the teaching of biology and botany.

In the afternoon session, B. Sasikumar, scientist at the Indian Institute of Spices Research, spoke on how adulterations in spices could be identified using simple biotechnology tests.

V.S. Ramachandran, RSC project coordinator; P.V. Madhusoodanan, emeritus scientist, Malabar Botanical Garden; Mohammed Rafeeq, biology professor, spoke.