The branch Phycology has come into existence in 1753 when Carolus Linnaeus first discovered four genera namely Fucus, Conferra, Chara and Ulva. Exactly after 200 years in 1953, Prof. A. K. M. Nurul Islam started to work on algal taxonomy in the Department of Botany, DU and devoted his life in the field of Phycology. Because of his tremendous contributions, he was awarded National Professor status in the February, 2006 which ended on 1st July 2006.
During his more than 50 years of uninterrupted search, he discovered a large number of algal taxa including genera (sing. genus) which are new to science. Because of outstanding contribution in the field of phycology, National Prof. A. K. M. Nurul Islam is regarded as the ‘Father of Phycology in BD’.
By the end of British regime, a few people worked on algae in the Indian sub-continent, but no record of phycological research in the present Bangladesh part existed till PK De in 1936 discovered the phenomenon of Nitrogen fixation in Blue Green Algae (collected from Faridpur), and BC Kundu discovered Nitella tuberculata in the 1937 from Rajshahi.
The algal research so far done in Bangladesh may be discussed in the following heading:
A large number of algae have been discovered so far from Bangladesh. These are listed alphabetically under each class in a tabular form (will be added later).
Cyanophyceae: Rivularia varia Islam et Begum 1981.
In 1970 Islam and Begum first reported 250 species of phytoplankton from the East Pakistan. This report is the first for this country and it is the guideline for further research in Phycology, Limnology, Hydrobiology and wetland vegetation.
In 1987, Islam and Aziz discovered Archrochaetium bengalicum form Swandip Island. In 2009, Aziz and S. Islam discovered Archrochetium nurulislamii from Bangladesh.
From 1970 to 1999 Islam either alone or with his research associates discovered about 136 new species including one genus Kirchneriellasaccus lunatus.
In 2000, Islam and Alfasane discovered Lepocindis caudata var. intermedia Islam et Alfasane. They also discovered 3 spp of Phacus, 7 spp. of Tracheomonas. In 2009, Khondkar et al discovered Strmbomonas islamii.
In 1993, Islam discovered Isthonochlron garcile var dacchense.
From 1965 to 1973, Islam discovered 6 spp. of Vaucheria.
In 1980, Islam and Aziz discovered Chaetoceros peruvianus var. recurva.
In 1997, Islam and Khondker discovered Cryptomonas reglexa var. recurva.
In 1976, 2 species of Fledmannia and 1 species of Giffardia was discovered by Islam.
New records for Indo-Pak subcontinent
Borodinella polytetras (a temporary algae, (Leningrad, USSR), from Dinajpur, Aziz and Tanbir 1998).
Euglenamorpha hegneri wenrich (a parasitic euglenoid from Dhaka, Khondker and Alfasane 2005)
Pteromonas aculeata Lemn. (from Barisal, Islam and Alfasane 2002).
Synurva uvella (a tempreate alga, from Gazipur, Aziz 2000).
Extensive research on the use of Blue Green Algae as biofertilizer (algalization) have been carried out by Begum and Aziz (2001). Considering difficulties in producing BGA, inocula and their subsequent viability in rice field, they have come to the conclusion that algalization is not a viable technology.
Dr. K M Sulanul Aziz described in 1974 a non-dialysable diarrhoea toxin from Microcystis aeruginosa, along with a dialyzable toxin. He was a pioneer for studies in the Vibrios in the environment and association of Vibrios with hydrophytic plants.
Begum ZNT in 1977 discovered tubular elements a new organelle in cells of Calothrix marchica and also developed a mutant through gamma irradiation. Prof. Dr. Abdul Aziz in addition to reporting taxa new to science has also discovered phenomena new to sciences on the following areas of research.
In 1977, Begum and Godward discovered the growth and development of new filaments (hormogonium) and differentiation of heterocysts in C. marchica.
In 1987, Aziz and Whitton showed differentiation of heterocysts in Gloeotrichia pisum. In 1989, Aziz et al and in 1993 Aziz discovered hair formation in Gloeotrichia.
Biochemical studies on Algal materials
In 1936, De from the soil of Faridpur, first reported the capability of BGA of fixing atmospheric nitrogen to soil.
In 1982, Begum first initiated the research on the effect of BGA in rice yield i.e. biological Nitrogen fixation through BGA.
In 1983, Aziz and Whitton studied on ecology of Nitrogen fixation.
In 1997, Begum first started cultural study and thus isolated more than 150 strains of BGA.
In 2002, Alfasane, Islam and Begum studied the Vibrio cholerae 01 and 0139 with phytoplankton in two ponds and one river at Bakerganj with the collaboration of ICDDRB.
Ecology of Nitrogen fixation
Decline in nitrogen fixation in the afternoon in situ is not only due to decrease in light flux but some other factors like oxygen saturation that results inhibition of nitrogenous synthesis and function and optimum C:N ratio as indicated by decreased activity even under constant light flux.
Development of production system
Large scale Azolla production system in pond (1 ton ha-1 day-1) round the year in Bangladesh environment has been developed.
Azolla fliliculoides, an aquatic fern can be used to measure arsenic in polluted groundwater cheaply and more precisely than the Merck Arsenic kit (Aziz 2001).
Bioremediation of Arsenic using Spirodela polyrhiza (duck weed) have been developed by Aziz (2003).
Process of large scale cultivation of Azolla for feeding fish and poultry and as indicator of Arsenic pollution in groundwater have been patented.
Nanofilter from local Algae
This is by far the largest impact of an algologist from Bangladesh. (More will be added soon)