The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 64: 59 - 64 (2020)

Vol 64, Issue 1-2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in India - First Part

Introduction of Developmental Biology at Utkal University, (Odisha, India)

Published: 23 June 2020

Priyambada Mohanty-Hejmadi*

Post Graduate Department of Zoology, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India


The paper deals with the background and the establishment of a Developmental Biology Laboratory in Utkal University in Odisha state. It describes the process from a humble beginning with limited facilities into a leading research centre, initially for amphibians and later for the endangered olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtle. Starting from the biology, reproduction and development in many anurans, the laboratory took up research on regeneration, especially on super-regeneration in tadpoles under the influence of morphogens such as vitamin A (retinoids). Treatment with vitamin A after amputation of the tail inhibited tail regeneration but unexpectedly induced homeotic transformation of tails into limbs in many anurans, starting with the marbled balloon frog Uperodon systoma. This was the first observation of homeotic transformation in any vertebrate. The laboratory continues research on histological and molecular aspects of this phenomenon. In addition, taking advantage of the largest rookery of olive ridley sea turtles in Gahirmatha, in the same state the laboratory has contributed significantly to the biology, breeding patterns, development and especially the temperature-dependent sex determination phenomenon (TSD). This research was extended to biochemical and ultrastructural aspects during development for the first time for any sea turtle. The laboratory has contributed significantly to the conservation of olive ridleys as well as the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Recognition and awards for the laboratory have been received from both national and international bodies.


Anuran, Crocodylus porosus, homeotic transformation, Lepidochelys olivacea, sex determination

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