Short Story on Professor Shri Ranjan

In 1955, Professor Shri Ranjan with his graduate students Manmohan Manohar Laloraya, Tadimeti Rajarao and Govindjee developed a circular paper chromatographic technique to separate large number of samples (8-16) at one time avoiding intermixing of bands from adjoining samples and called it a horizontal migration multiple sector chromatographic technique. This technique not only avoided intermixing of adjacent bands but also restricted radial flow within the sector giving higher values in quantitative estimations, an improvement over other techniques prevalent at that time. Professor Emeritus Laloraya (currently at Indore, India) vividly remembers the morning when he and Govindjee carried the first successful amino acid separation chromatogram to Professor Shri Ranjan's house in Allahabad at 8.30 in the morning. He was in his Verandah in a half sleeve shirt resting in his big chair after his early morning garden activity. He looked towards us and shouted, as Laloraya recalls "What brings you so early in the morning to my house! Is there a fire in the department! Quietly we moved towards him and opened the Newspaper wrapping the chromatogram on a table kept in front of him. He looked at it and shouted "Oh it is beautiful" and jumped out of the chair. He held us by our shoulders, as Laloraya recalls, and virtually had a swing. He rushed inside with joy saying -wait for 5 minutes. I shall get ready and be with you'. He came out dressed up, took out his big Ford Car, asked us to sit by his side and drove us to the department. He was excited and happy like a child like ourselves and made us forget that he was our great Professor with whom no one could boast to be so close as we were at that moment. He ordered everything that we needed for our research work and we were granted access at any time to meet him in connection with our research work. He was thrilled by our success in separating large number of amino acids present in plant extracts. Using this technique* and later combining it with two dimensional paper chromatography, Ranjan and his students (Laloraya, Rajarao, Govindjee and Rajni Varma) attacked several problems related to plant metabolism for the first time in India. Govindjee and Rajni Varma became PhD students of Robert Emerson during 1956 and 1957, respectively; after February 4, 1959, the date of Emerson's death in a plane crash, both became PhD students of Eugene Rabinowitch. Govindjee completed his PhD in Biophysics in 1960, and Rajni completed her PhD in Botany in 1961, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

* Early papers: Only the work done in the late 1954 and 1955, published in several letters and short papers(#s 2-6, including a paper in Nature (#2)), and a detailed paper (#1) are listed below:

(1) Ranjan S, Govindjee and Laloraya MM (1955, August; received December 11, 1954 ) Chromatographic studies on the amino acid metabolism of healthy and diseased leaves of Croton sparsiflorus Morong. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of India 21 B: 42-47.

(2) Laloraya MM and Govindjee (1955, May 21)Effect of tobacco leaf curl and tobacco mosaic virus on the amino acid and amide content of Nicotiana sp. Nature (London) 175: 907.

(3) Laloraya,MM, Govindjee and Rajarao T (1955, June) A chromatographic study of the amino acids(and sugars) of healthy and diseased leaves of Acalypha indica. Current Science (India) 24: 203.

(4) Rajarao T, Laloraya MM and Govindjee (1956; received October 17, 1955) Absence of some free amino acids from the diseased leaves of Trichosanthes anguina. Naturwissenschaften (Berlin) Jahrgang 43 ( Heft 13): 301.

(5) Laloraya MM, Govindjee, Rajni Varma (now Govindjee) and Rajarao T (1956; received October 19, 1955) Increased formation of asparagine in Carica-curl virus infected leaves. Experientia (Basel) 12: 58.

(6) Govindjee, Laloraya MM and Rajarao T (1956; received December, 16, 1955)Formation of asparagine and increase in the free amino acid content in virus infected leaves of Abelmoschus esculentus. Experientia (Basel) 12: 180.

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Last page update: 18 September 1999