The Palynology Laboratory of IFP completes fifty years as a centre for basic and advanced research in the field of pollen studies. The laboratory was established in November 1960 with Ph. Guinet as its Head under the Directorship of Jean Filliozat initially with the purpose of establishing a reference collection of pollen grains of tropical plant species and to publish scientific papers and monographs on their description. Research on Paleoenvironments in this lab has been a holistic one with an approach that includes the Human dimension provided by History and Archeology, since its very inception. Dr. G. Thanikaimoni, who headed this laboratory for more than twenty years till 1986, while strengthening this approach, laid a special emphasis on pollen morphology and played a key role in building up the huge repertory of reference pollen slides in addition to the monumental compilation of five volumes of bibliographic indexes to pollen morphology. This approach continued under subsequent heads of the lab, Drs C. Caratini, R. Bonnefille and M. Taieb until 2000 when the lab became a part of the Department of Ecology of the IFP and gradually powerful modern technologies like remote sensing and computer aided identification were incorporated into recent projects, such as the multimedia software for pollen identification of south Indian plant species by Dr. G. Vasanthy & Dr. P. Grard.
The present approach is interdisciplinary and multi-proxy, in active collaboration with experts from within India and abroad. Over the course of fifty years, the collection of pollen reference slides of nearly 15500 plant species mainly from tropical India and also including those from other parts of the world on an exchange basis has been built up.
It must be emphasized that only one other centre is devoted to Palynology in India, situated in the North (Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow) with a focus on the temperate to sub temperate climates and a broader focus on Paleobotany and longer timescales. IFP’s is the only centre devoted to tropical palynology in India (with perhaps the largest pollen reference collection in Asia) and an emphasis on southern (peninsular) India. Hence, the successful completion of 50 years of this active lab is a feather in the cap also for Indo French cooperation, as this lab provides an important complement to the academia in India. In line with the holistic approach mentioned above, the organic link with Ecology, the Department in which this lab is situated, provides for a paleoecological prespective, which will continue to be the chief emphasis of not only the two events outlined below for the commemoration but also future research on paleoenvironments in south India.
The 50th anniversary year will be commemorated through two events: a Training programme "POLTRAIN 2010" and an International PAGES workshop "IGBP PAGES PHAROS Land-cover reconstructions in the monsoon affected Tropical world - pollen modeling approach and data synthesis" at the IFP in December 2010 and January 2011, respectively.