Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma,Scientist-C (IBSD, Sikkim Centre)
Conservation Biology and Bioresources Management
Species level assessment
The Himalaya extends its range in an area of ca 2,400 km length with an average width of 200 km from Eastern Pakistan to Northern Burma. It is known that the Himalaya is a chain of young folded mountains and its orogeny has played a major role in creation of different topographical features and meteorological conditions thereby evolution of different habitats which, in turn, brought about rich species diversity in the Indian Subcontinent. Further, the synergistic effect of rainfall, latitude and altitude has larger influences on the vegetation and distribution of biodiversity in the Himalayan region. Both intrinsic and extrinsic factors contribute to the loss of species diversity and population gene pool, and all the processess and factors act synergistically. Therefore, I feel, it is important to understand and evaluate the factors that directly or indirectly act as threats to plant species accurately and address the threats explicitly to evolve effective and sustainable conservation and management strategies in the Himalaya including India’s North-East Region (INER).
Conservation biology is an integrated applied science that involves several disciplines, such as taxonomy, phylogeny, evolutionary biology, ecology, population biology, genetics, sociology, economics, political science, ethics, etc. and it aims to reduce human impacts on natural wealth and resources on earth. Therefore, keeping the above in view, my lab would conduct studies on distribution of species, taxonomy and phylogenetics, conservation status, ecology, population biology, reproduction biology, cytology, and population genetic structures for a thorough and systematic documention on the plant resources of the Himalaya, which can serve as a basis for further study. This kind of study is most important in areas where a high number of rare species has been naturally distributed, such as North-East Region (NER) of the Himalaya and The Western Ghat. Furthermore, I hope that collecting, recording and generating data and monitoring long-term data on rare plant species and their population using the state-of-art methods, habitat modelings and analytical tools will help in understanding the role of various factors in determining species diversity and causes of rarity in the Himalaya.
Recently, global efforts are also made to protect the areas on earth that harbor high diversity of both common and rare plants (biodiversity hotspots). I also aim to educate people particularly in the Eastern Himalaya Region about the economic, utilitarian and both intrinsic, and extrinsic values of biodiversity. Also, outreach programs to be initiated in order to change perceptions among different stakeholders and to formulate conservation plans.
Genetic level assessment
Different habitats in the Himalaya have largely been played in shaping the genetic makeup at individual level, and within and among population of each species. As deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) sequence within genes is the source of information for all permanent phenotypic characters that differ from each organism, use of DNA fingerprinting is an invaluable technique to explore not only the genetic diversity, taxonomic unit, genetic linkages, diagnose genetic diseases but to also reveal the genetic identity both at an individual and the population levels for each species. With the advancement in biotechnological tools, one of the preferred methods of ex-situ conservation is through storage as DNA or gene libraries. Using the advanced methods and tools of biotechnology, my lab aims to carry out DNA fingerprinting on the economically important and the threatend plant resources occuring in India’s North Eastern Region. The generated data would be used to assess and evaluate for scientific purposes including conservation planning and management.
Plants provide food, medicines, building materials, textiles, habitats and other essential ecosystem services that sustain life not only in the Himalaya but also on earth. Use of medicinal plants by human is as old as its civilization. The emergence of herbal industries clearly indicates a great potential in economic development from the medicinal plant resources in India. Bringing medicinal plants under cultivation is highly desirable in the developing countries like India, which offers not only opportunities for use of biotechnological tools to solve problems associated with the production of medicinal plants, but it also creates opportunities to optimize yield and achieve a uniform high-quality products. There is a large scope of meeting the domestic requirements of Himalayan medicinal plants, such as, Bikhma (Aconitum ferxo), Himalayan ginseng (Panax bipinnatifidus and P. sokpayensis), jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), chireto (Swertia chirata), kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa), satuwa (Paris polyphylla), panchaunle (Orchis latifolia), Himalayan mayapple (Sinopodophyllum hexandrum), Mishmi teeta (Coptis teeta), etc. in many pharmaceutical companies in India. In this regard, development of technical know-how on potential medicinal plants for commercial cultivation can be a great boon for meeting out the demand of domestic markets and for a larger interest of the country. As a part of the efforts of bringing wild plants into cultivation, my lab would focus on “Development of agro-techniques in Himalayan Ginseng (Panax L; Araliaceae) in Sikkim”.
Summing up, my research interests focus into promoting and exploring ways to improve the interest, quality and motivation of students to learn and teach basics of life sciences. I continue to study in my area of research interests including biodiversity of the Himalaya and its association with culture and traditions of different Himalayan tribes through newer and innovative methods, techniques, modeling and analyses. I support students who work through strong background in biological and other sciences from their undergraduate or major in Masters. I have a personal preference for students with broad background including interest in the humanities, history, languages and anthropology.
→ Conservation and management of plant resources in North-Eastern Himalayan Region of India
Rs. 68.0 lakh grant vide DBT’s Sanction Order No. DBT-NER/Agri/20/2013 date November, 2015 for the project entitled “Development of agro-techniques in Ginseng (Panax L; Araliaceae) in Sikkim”.
Post Doctoral, 2011-2012 (National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), GKVK Campus, Bellary Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka- 560065)
Ph.D., 2004-2010 (University of Delhi, Delhi)
M.Sc. Botany (Darjeeling Govt. College under North Bengal University, Darjeeling, West Bengal)
June 2016 – Present: Scientist-C, IBSD (Sikkim Centre)
2012 – 2016: Assistant Scientific Officer, Department of Science, Technology and Climate Change, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok (Sikkim)
2010-2011: Project Scientist, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Mountain and Hill Environment (CISMHE), University of Delhi (Delhi)
Expert Member, State Biodiversity Board of Sikkim, of Sikkim (2012-2015)
Member, State Board for Wildlife, Department of Forests and Environment, Govt. of Sikkim
Member, American Journal of Botany (2009-2010)
Member, American Association of Plant Taxonomists (2009-2011)
Gene cloning, protein biochemistry, structural biology and bioinformatics from Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, ACTREC, Navi Mumbai (Maharastra)
Conservation assessment and management prioritization workshop training from FRLHT (Bangalore) and SMPB (FEWM Deptt.), Gangtok (Sikkim)
Awareness raising on climate change adaptation (Training of Trainers) from GIZ (Germany) and Ministry of DoNER (India), Gurgaon (Haryana)
Leadership and gender in the context of climate change from GIZ (Germany) and Ministry of DoNER (India), New Delhi (Delhi)
DSLR camera photography training from Nikon India Pvt Ltd. (Kolkata), Gangtok (Sikkim)
Mist-netting technique for sampling bird species in the Himalaya from late Prof. Navjot Sodhi of NUS (Singapore), Gangtok (Sikkim)
2012-2016: Assistant Scientific Officer is an administrative post equivalent to Under Secretary in the Department of Science, Technology and Climate Change, Govt. of Sikkim, Vigyan Bhawan, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Vice President, Himalayan Science Society, NGO, Gangtok, East Sikkim
General Secretary, Sikkim Govt. College Alumni Association (SGCAA), Gangtok, East Sikkim
Life member, Nepali Sahitya Parishad (NESAP), Sikkim
Publications: (year wise, recent first)
Sushen Pradhan, Arvind Kumar Goyal, Shiva K. Sharma and Pratap J. Handique (2016). Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of different cultivars of Zingiber officinale Roscoe grown in Sikkim Himalaya. Accepted in the Journal of Medicinal Plant Research.
Sushen Pradhan, Shiva Kumar Sharma and Bharat Chandra Basistha (2015). Aerial nodulation in Hippophae salicifolia D. Don (Eleagnaceae) and its ecological and medical Implications in the alpine regions of Sikkim Himalaya. SMU Medical Journal 2: 155-174.
K. Sharma and M. K. Pandit (2011). A morphometric analysis and taxonomic study of Panax bipinnatifidus Seem. (Araliaceae) species complex from Sikkim Himalaya, India. Plant Systematics and Evolution 297: 87-98. DOI: 10.1007/s00606-011-0501-8 (Online first).
K. Sharma, M. S. Bisht and M. K. Pandit (2010). Synaptic mutation-driven male sterility in Panax sikkimensis Ban. (Araliaceae), from Eastern Himalaya, India. Plant Systematics and Evolution 286: 29-36.
K. Sharma and M. K. Pandit (2009). A new species of Panax L. (Araliaceae) from Sikkim Himalaya, India. Systematic Botany 34: 434-438.
C. Nautiyal, S. K. Sharma and M. K. Pandit (2009). Notes on the taxonomic history of two rare species of Begonia L. (Begoniaceae) from Sikkim Himalaya and their conservation I. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3: 823- 830.
C. Nautiyal, S. K. Sharma and M. K. Pandit (2009). Notes on the taxonomic history, rediscovery and conservation of two endangered species of Ceropegia L. (Asclepiadaceae) from Sikkim Himalaya II. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3: 815-822.
Chapter in book(s)
K. Sharma and M. K. Pandit (2013). Species diversity, distribution and conservation of Panax L. species complex in Eastern Himalaya, India. In: Sikkim Biodiversity: significance and sustainable (Tamang et al, eds.). Department of Science and Technology, Government of Sikkim, India. Pp. 67-77, (ISBN: 78-81-92-44-75-0-6).