Int. J. Dev. Biol. 64: 109 - 121 (2020)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.190189ps
© UPV/EHU Press

Research on early mammalian development in India

Polani B. Seshagiri* and Venkatappa Vani

Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

ABSTRACT Historically, research in India on early mammalian development had only begun, rather modestly, in the last century, unlike the USA and UK. In India, initial studies were on gonadal and reproductive tissue development and function and they were limited to anatomical and histological characterization. This was followed by research on fertility regulation and contraception. Since the 1960s, a major initiative took place regarding endocrine biochemistry and the use of antifertility agents in inhibiting gonadal function and early development. Post-independence, the Indian government´s funding support enabled universities and institutions to embark on various research disciplines in biology but with no particular emphasis on developmental biology per se. Subsequently, India made significant progress in the area of mammalian reproduction and development, but not specifically in the core aspects of developmental biology. Reasons for this could be due to the nation’s compulsion to invest and embark on socio-economic and infrastructure development and on research involving family planning methods for reversible-affordable contraceptives to curtail population growth. With regard to the latter, biologists were involved in hormone-based contraception research. During this pursuit, insights were achieved into basic aspects of the development of gonads, gametes and embryos. Notwithstanding this, in the post-1980s through to the present time, Indian scientists have contributed to (i) the understanding of the cellular and molecular regulation of early development, (ii) developing genetically modified mouse models, (iii) using assisted reproductive technologies, generating mammalian progeny, including humans and (iv) deriving pluripotent stem cell lines for developmental studies. This article provides a perspective on the past and current status of early mammalian development research in India.

Keywords:

gametogenesis, embryogenesis, implantation, early pregnancy

*Corresponding author e-mail: polani@iisc.ac.in