The Department of Botany, University of Calcutta, was established
in the year 1914, with Prof. P. Brühl at the helm. Prof.
P. Brühl, an eminent German scientist, served as the Registrar
of the University as well for a certain period. His contribution
of “Census of Indian Mosses” is still a classic in Bryology.
first batch of four students who passed M.Sc. Botany in
the year 1918 :
1.Dr.Krishna Das Bagchee
2. Sri Kanti Gopal Banerjee
Prof. P. Brühl was succeeded by Prof. S. P. Agharkar, Maharastrian
Scientist, trained in Taxonomy at the Engler’s school in
Germany, who joined the Department as Sir Rash Behary Ghose
Professor in 1914. Prof. Agharkar later became the founder
of the Maharastra Association for the Cultivation of Science
Prof. Agharkar’s vision was to promote teaching and research
in Plant Sciences in its totality, unlike that of other
Universities where sporadic excellence was prevalent. His
efforts led to establishment of the schools of Embryology,
Mycology and Plant Pathology, Plant Physiology, Cytogenetics,
Taxonomy and even Palaeobotany, the latter being the only
one in the country at that period excepting at Lucknow.
Prof. Agharkar was succeeded in 1946 by Prof. P. C. Sarbadhikary,
a well known expert of Pteridophytes, whose basic contributions
were on Apomixis in ferns specially in Osmunda .The
contributions of apomixis in recent years have opened a
new avenue for stabilization of Transgenics and improved
hybrids in crops. In later years, other active schools came
up, both in teaching and research in Pharmacognosy, Microbiology
and Plant Pathology.
After Prof. Agharkar’s retirement in 1946, Prof. P. C. Sarbadhikary
succeeded him as Sir Rashbehary Ghose Professor of Botany.
He published some outstanding papers on apogamy and apospory
in Pteridophytes. Dr. Sarbadhikary died untimely in 1954.
Dr. I. Banerjee, who joined the Department in 1929 as a
lecturer and was a Reader at that time, became the Head
of the Department in 1954. Dr. Banerjee and his Research
Scholars made significant contributions to the field of
embryology of Angiosperms.
Dr. I. Banerjee retired in 1960 and Prof. S. M. Sircar took
charge of the Department. Prof.
Sircar had earlier worked with Prof. F. G. Gregory at the
Imperial College, London, and joined this Department in
1937 as lectiurer in Botany and soon adorned the chair of
Sir Rash Behari Ghose Professor in Botany.He and his research
students worked extensively on the physiology of rice plants,
on various problems of fundamental to agronomic interest.
Prof.Sircar as Head of the Department of Botany of the University
of Calcutta organized an International symposium on Plant
Growth substances in the year 1967.Prof. S.M.Sircar was
one of the pioneers of Plant Physiological research in India.Double
cropping of rice was his important contribution which has
found practical applications.He was able to establish a
school of Plant Physiology, which has made significant contributions
to plant science research and teaching in India
Apart from the above-mentioned teachers, several other distinguished
teachers also have served the Department at various times.
Among them are Sri S.N. Bal, Asst. Professor (1918-1922);
Dr. P.N. Ghatak, Lecturer (1935-1939); Prof. P.N. Bhaduri,
a well known cytogeneticist (served this Department as Lecturer
from 1935-1946); Sri A. K. Ghosh, an eminent palynologist
and palaeobotanist (served as Lecturer from 1937-1947 and
as a Reader from 1961-1970); Dr. J. Sen (Lecturer from 1947-1961
and Reader from 1961-1962), who left the Department to take
over the charge as Superintendent of the Indian Botanical
Prof. S. M. Sircar left this Department in 1967 to join the
Bose Institute as the Director. Dr. S. N. Banerjee, who
was then a Reader in Mycology and Plant Pathology, then
headed the Department. He joined this Department in 1939
and retired in 1970. He and his students contributed substantially
to our knowledge of higher fungi, especially timber rotting
Basidiomycetes. Prof. A. K. Sharma succeeded him. Prof.
Sharma joined this Department in 1948 and was appointed
as a UGC Professor in 1969 and later as Sir Rash Behary
he assumed the charge as Head of the Department, a spurt
of activities could be noted in the development of this
Department including University Leadership Project by the
University Grants Commission. The Department started with
effect from 1972 the term system of examination; entire
M.Sc. course being divided in 5 semesters in 2 years which
continued till 1996. The Semester system has been reintroduced
in the Department since 2007. Professor Sharma’s contribution
to the field of cytogenetics is internationally well recognized.
Prof. Sharma was elected as a Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow in
1973-75, President of Indian National Science Academy (1983-84)
and INSA Golden Jubilee Professor (1985-90). During this
period, Prof. H. C. Gangulee, an eminent Bryologist, took
over the charge of the Department. Prof. H. C. Gangulee
retired in 1979 as UGC professor. Prof. A. K. Sharma gave
up the Headship in 1981, when rotational Headship was introduced
in the University. He was succeeded by Prof. (Mrs.) Archana
Sharma (81-83), Prof. P. C. Dutta (83-85), Prof. S. C. Datta
(85-87), Prof. A. K. Chandra (87-89), Prof. S. Mukherjee
(89-91), Prof. (Ms) Sumitra Sen (91-93), Prof. R.P.Purkaystha
(93-95), Prof. S. Ghosh (95-97), Prof. N. Samajpati (97-99),
Prof. P. K. Sircar (99-01), Prof. S. C. Roy (01), Prof.
P. K. Mukherjee (01-03), Prof. A. K. Paul (03-05), Prof.
N. D. Paria (05-07), Prof. (Mrs.) Sumita Jha (07-).
In 1972 the University Grants Commission selected the section
Cytogenetics of the Department as a Special Assistance Centre
for Chromosome Research. The Centre undertook collaboration
programmes with many national and international institutions.
In 1979, in due recognition to its achievements, the Centre
of special assistance was accorded by UGC the status of
“Centre of Advanced Study in Cell and Chromosome Research”,
initially headed by Prof. A. K. Sharma as Programme Coordinator
followed successively by Prof. Sumitra Sen, Prof.S. Ghosh,
Prof.S. C.Roy and Prof. Sumita Jha.