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Dr Daramsothu Seetharam Palynologist Palaeobotanist

His research gives glimpse of ecological landscape that existed 300 million years ago

One of the most useful extant remains of a plant that can survive for millions of years under favourable conditions is its pollen or spores. The study of these particles, called Palynology, gives clues to the life, environment, and energetic conditions that produced them. Meet Dr. Daramsothu Seetharam, a Palynologist, Palaeobotanist and a UGC – RGNF Senior Research Fellow at Osmania University, Hyderabad, who’s research in this field has provided fascinating insights ranging from Telangana region’s geological evolution to how allergies and asthma get developed in residents of certain regions.

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam in his Palynology lab
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam in his Palynology lab

Botany has always been the favourite subject of Dr Seetharam right from his high school days. After completing MSc in Botany from Osmania University, he was awarded Birbal Sahni Research scholarship and started his research work in Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow in 2012. Here he got acquainted with various techniques used in Palaebotany for extraction of pollens or spores from the samples and their analysis. He also mastered Aeropalynological techniques to recover the airborne aerospora from spider webs and their analysis. Based on his excellent academic performance, he was awarded  UGC Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship in 2014 to pursue research in Palaeobotany from Osmania University. He was promoted to UGC RGNF Senior Research Fellow in 2016.

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Dr Daramsothu Seetharam presenting in 2nd National Geo-Research Scholars meet
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam presenting in 2nd National Geo-Research Scholars meet held at Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun in May’2017

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam presenting his research to Dr M Shanmukhappa, General Manager, Palaeontology Division, ONGC at WIHG Dehradun in 2013
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam presenting his research to Dr M Shanmukhappa, General Manager, Palaeontology Division, ONGC at WIHG Dehradun during Indian Colloquium on Micropaleontology and Stratigraphy, 2013

Dr Daramsothy Seetharam presenting in a conference in 2013
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam presenting his research in National conference on Recent Developments in Plant and Earth Sciences organized by The Palaeobotanical Society, Lucknow and BSIP, Lucknow in 2013

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam worked on tertiary palynology of lignite mines in Kutch basin and Cambay basin of Gujarat in 2012
As a research scholar in BSIP, Lucknow, Dr Daramsothu Seetharam worked on tertiary palynology of lignite mines in Kutch basin and Cambay basin of Gujarat in 2012

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Achievements in Area of Specialization: Applied Palynology and Palaeophytology

The Singareni coal fields located in the Yellandu area under the Godavari basin are one of the largest coal deposits of India and a treasure cove for Palynologists. Spores and pollen get preserved intact in the coal seams without any change due to biological, physical and chemical factors because of the presence of a strong pollen wall made up of chemically inert biological polymers.

Dr. Seetharam researched the coal samples from above area provided by Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. for palynological investigations. Based on his analysis, he inferred that rich diverse flora prevailed in this area during the deposition of sediments and the geological age of the samples dated back to Permian (290-250 Million years ago) age. He also inferred that warm climatic conditions, high humidity, low precipitation prevailed at the time of deposition in this area. Moreover, one of the startling discoveries he made during his analysis was the presence of algal elements which indicates marine environment. Thus, one can infer that a part of current Telangana, particularly the Yellandu coalfield area, was once a shallow marine environment.

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Coal Reserves of India - Source mapsofindia.com
Coal Reserves of India – Source mapsofindia.com

 

Google Map indicating Singareni Coal mines
Google Map indicating Singareni Coal mines. Dr Daramsothu Seetharam’s research shows that this area was a shallow marine environment some 290-250 million years ago.

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam at Singareni coal mine
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam at Singareni coal mine

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam recording his samples at Singareni coal mine
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam recording his samples at Singareni coal mine

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam research - Palynology techniques involves chemical treatment of samples to extract the pollens
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam research – Palynology techniques involves chemical treatment of samples to extract the pollens

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam research work - photo plates of pollen samples collected at Singareni coal mine
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam research work – (left) Photographic plate showing the Charcoal particles (i); along with trachied elements (ii); and palynoflora (iii) from Yellandu coal field (right) Photographic plate of palynomorphs recorded from Yellandu coal field

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Achievements in Area of Specialization: Aeropalynology

Aeropalynology is an applied branch of Science that deals with the study of spore, pollen and fungal spores present in the atmosphere that get transported to different places through air. Spider webs are known to be source of potential natural traps for airborne spores and pollen grains, fungal spores, small leaves, flowers and insect parts of a particular geographical area.

Dr. Seetharam carried out his research on distinct characteristics of the regional flora growing in and around Sanjeevaiah park, Hyderabad using aeropalynological techniques. He observed that there was dominance of fungal spores due to the unhygienic, pollutings activities around Hussain Sagar Lake and also the polluted water of the lake. Airborne pollen grains and fungal spores are the most important natural sources of atmospheric bio pollution concerned with inhalant allergy in human beings especially respiratory allergenic diseases like asthma (allergic lung disease) and hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and contact dermatitis.

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Aeropalynology involves extraction of samples from spider webs that act as a pollen trap
Aeropalynology involves extraction of samples from spider webs that act as a pollen trap

Dr Daramsothu Seetharam Aeropalynology research
Dr Daramsothu Seetharam Aeropalynology research – Photographic plate of important airborne allergenic aerospora of (left) Sanjeevaiah Park, Hyderabad and (right) Palkhal wildlife sanctuary, Warangal district

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Given its use for a diverse range of applications in many scientific disciplines, Dr Seetharam feels his journey as a Palynologist and Palaeobotanist has only begun. He aims to pursue coal petrology (study of rocks) and palynofacies studies of Yellandu Coal fields to determine the depositional environment. He would also like to conduct Melisso Palynology (study of pollen in Honey) of Warangal District. He also plans to conduct Aeropalynological study of Ramappa Lake in Warangal in near future.

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