Dr. Wahengbam Romi

Microbes in Food and Human Health

Microbial ecology addresses which microbes inhabit an environment, how their community structure and composition change, what their functions are, and how they work together to maintain a sustained and balanced ecosystem functioning. Our group studies the microbiota associated with the human and food fermentation microbial ecosystems using omics, and microbial culturomics approaches with the objective to define the following four key areas of molecular microbial ecology:

  1. Community assembly, formation, succession, distribution, and core microbiome.
  2. Linking community structure and composition to function.
  3. Molecular mechanisms underlying ecologically and evolutionarily relevant processes occurring between and within microbial communities: Elucidating intra- and inter-community and host-microbiota interactions.
  4. Utilizing the microbial resources, and the microbiome data to develop functional microbial consortium, and microbial-derived interventions and predictive models for improving human health.

The current areas of research interest are:

  1. Gut and reproductive tract microbiome as a therapeutic target for improving women health.
  2. Understanding the microbial community structure, composition, dynamics, interactions, and functions in traditional fermented foods as the model tractable microbial ecosystems.
  3. Fermented foods and human health: Impact of traditional fermented foods, and its microbiota and microbial-derived metabolites on the host gut microbiota and metabolome.

Academic:

  • Ph.D. (Biotechnology) (Field: Molecular Microbial Ecology), Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, India, and Gauhati University, Guwahati, India (2008 – 2015)
  • M.Sc. (Biotechnology), Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India (2005 – 2007)
  • B.Sc. (Biotechnology), Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, India (2002 – 2005)

Employment:

  • DST-INSPIRE Faculty, Life Sciences Division, IASST, Guwahati, India (2016 – Till date)
  • Research Associate (under DBT’s Unit of Excellence scheme), Life Sciences Division, IASST, Guwahati, India (2016)
  • Scientist- B, Microbial Resources Division, IBSD, Imphal, India (2013 – 2016)

Research positions:

  • CSIR-SRF, Microbial Resources Division, IBSD, Imphal, India (2011 – 2013)
  • SRF, Microbial Resources Division, IBSD, Imphal, India (2010 – 2011)
  • JRF, Microbial Resources Division, IBSD, Imphal, India (2008 – 2010)
  • JRF, Neuroscience Research Lab, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, India (2007 – 2008)

Professional achievements, fellowships, awards:

  • International Travel Support grant, SERB, DST, Govt. of India (2018)
  • DST-INSPIRE Faculty Award, DST, Govt. of India (2016)
  • Microbiome Innovation Award, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad (2016) (did not join due to acceptance of DST-INSPIRE Faculty Award)
  • Sponsorship of Young Scientists from Developing Countries by the ICFMH, International Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene (ICFMH), International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) (icfmh.eu/en), 25th International ICFMH Conference: FOOD MICRO 2016, University College Dublin, Ireland (2016)
  • Poster Prize from the Scientific Committee, ICFMH Biennial Symposium, 24th International ICFMH Conference: FOOD MICRO 2014, Nantes, France (2014)
  • Sponsorship of Young Scientists from Developing Countries by the ICFMH, International Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene (ICFMH), International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), 24th International ICFMH Conference: FOOD MICRO 2014, Nantes, France (2014)
  • International Travel Support grant, SERB, DST, Govt. of India (2014)
  • CSIR-SRF Fellowship, CSIR, Govt. of India (2011)
  • Best Oral Presentation Award for Microbiology, 2nd Indian Youth Science Congress (IYSC), SRM University, Chennai, India (2010)
  • State Award on Science Popularisation (for securing highest mark in Science in HSLC examination), Department of Science & Technology and Information Technology, Govt. of Manipur (2000)

Professional responsibilities taken:

  • Formed a start-up venture named “GutVicinta” (https://www.gutvicinta.com/meet-the-team) in 2019 as a Founding Member to translate the lab-generated research knowledge of human microbiome for providing next-generation health care solutions and services.
  • Member, Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC), IASST, Guwahati (2019 – 2022).
  • Formulated the Guidelines and SOPs of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC), IASST, Guwahati (https://iasst.gov.in/institutional-biosafety-committee-ibsc/).
  • Member, Intellectual Property Rights Management Cell (IPRMC), IASST, Guwahati (2017 – Till Date).
  • Member, Institutional Biotech Hub Advisory Committee, IASST, Guwahati (2017 – Till Date).
  • Member, Newsletter Publication Committee, ISVEC, IASST, Guwahati (2018 – Till Date).
  • Member, Selection Committee for Research Fellows under various projects, IASST, Guwahati (2019).
  • Member, Security Management & Implementation Committee, IASST, Guwahati (2019 – Till date).
  • Member, Institute Website Development Committee, IASST, Guwahati (2019).

Peer-reviewed publications:

  • Das, R., Romi, W., Das, R., Sharma, H. K., Thakur, D. (2018) Antimicrobial potentiality of actinobacteria isolated from two microbiologically unexplored forest ecosystems of North East India. BMC Microbiology. 18:71 DOI: 10.1186/s12866-018-1215-7. PMID: 29996765 (https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12866-018-1215-7) (IF: 2.829)
  • Keisam, S., Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (2016) Quantifying the biases in metagenome mining for realistic assessment of microbial ecology of naturally fermented foods. Scientific Reports. 6: 34155. DOI: 10.1038/srep34155. PMID: 27669673 (https://www.nature.com/articles/srep34155) (IF: 5.228)
  • Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (2015) Three-phase succession of autochthonous lactic acid bacteria to reach a stable ecosystem within 7 days of natural bamboo shoot fermentation as revealed by different molecular approaches. Molecular Ecology. 24(13):3372-89. DOI: 10.1111/mec.13237. PMID: 25963776 (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mec.13237) (IF: 6.086)
  • Romi, W., Keisam, S., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (2014) Reliable differentiation of Meyerozyma guilliermondii from Meyerozyma caribbica by internal transcribed spacer restriction fingerprinting. BMC Microbiology. 14(1):52. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2180-14-52. PMID: 24575831 (https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2180-14-52) (IF: 2.644)
  • Adewumi, G. A., Oguntoyinbo, F. A., Romi, W., Singh, T. A., Jeyaram, K. (2014) Genome subtyping of autochthonous Bacillus species isolated from iru, a fermented Parkia biglobosa. Food Biotechnology. 28(3):250-68. DOI: 10.1080/08905436.2014.931866. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08905436.2014.931866) (IF: 0.814)
  • Adewumi, G. A., Oguntoyinbo, F. A., Keisam, S., Romi, W., Jeyaram, K. (2013) Combination of culture-independent and culture-dependent molecular methods for the determination of bacterial community of iru, a fermented Parkia biglobosa. Frontiers in Microbiology. 3:436. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00436. PMID: 23316189 (https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2012.00436/full) (IF: 4.165)
  • Jeyaram, K., Romi, W., Singh, T. A., Adewumi, G. A., Basanti, K., Oguntoyinbo, F. A. (2011) Distinct differentiation of closely related species of Bacillus subtilis group with industrial importance. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 87(2):161-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.mimet.2011.08.011. PMID: 21889958 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167701211002983) (IF: 1.790)
  • Jeyaram, K., Romi, W., Singh, T. A., Devi, A. R., Devi, S. S. (2010) Bacterial species associated with traditional starter cultures used for fermented bamboo shoot production in Manipur state of India. International Journal of Food Microbiology. 143(1-2):1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2010.07.008. PMID: 20696489 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168160510003818) (IF: 3.339)
  • Jeyaram, K., Singh, T. A., Romi, W., Devi, A. R., Singh, W. M., Dayanidhi, H., Singh, N. R., Tamang, J. P. (2009) Traditional fermented foods of Manipur. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 8(1):115-121. (IF: 1.273)

Books and book chapters:

  • Romi, W., Thangjam, A., Keisam, S., Asem, I.D., Ningthoujam, D.S., Jeyaram, K. (2020). Ethnic Fermented Foods and Alcoholic Beverages of Manipur. In: Ethnic Fermented Foods and Beverages of India: Science History and Culture, (Ed. Tamang, J.P.), Springer Nature, Singapore. ISBN: 978-981-15-1485-2. DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-1486-9 (Chapter doi: 10.1007/978-981-15-1486-9_14) (https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789811514852).

Papers presented in conferences:

  • Effect of alcoholic beverages on the human microbiome. Sarkar, P., Kandimala, R., Romi, W., Kalita, M. C., Talukdar, R., Khan, M. R. (Oral). India|EMBO Symposium- Human microbiome: Resistance and disease, 9th – 12th November 2019, National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani, India
  • Genetic diversity and population structure of Lactobacillus plantarum – The predominant core microbiota of traditional spontaneously fermented bamboo shoot. Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (Poster). 26th International ICFMH Conference: FoodMicro 2018- Biodiversity of Foodborne Microbes, 3rd – 6th September 2018, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
  • Highly interacting lactic acid bacteria-predominated core microbiota drives the natural bamboo shoot fermentation. Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (Oral). 57th Annual Conference of Association of Microbiologists of India & International Symposium on “Microbes and Biosphere: What’s New What’s Next”, 24th – 27th November 2016, Gauhati University, Guwahati, India.
  • Application of network analysis in unveiling core microbiota and microbial interactions in natural bamboo shoot fermentation ecosystem. Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (Oral). The 25th International ICFMH Conference: FOOD MICRO 2016- One Health Meets Food Microbiology, 19th – 22nd July 2016, University College Dublin, Ireland. (could not attend due to delay in visa approval)
  • Microbial culture collection in North East India: Overview of ex-situ conservation of microbial resources in the post-genomic era. Devi, N. J., Lynda, R., Khumbongmayum, R., Devi, Y. R., Romi, W., Devi, S. I., Tiwari, O. N., Talukdar, N. C. (Poster). 1st National Bioresources and Sustainable Development Summit-2015, 19th & 20th February 2015, Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, Ind.
  • Microbial community structure and dynamics during spontaneous bamboo shoot fermentation for production of traditional fermented foods in India. Romi, W., Ahmed, G., Jeyaram, K. (Poster). The 24th International ICFMH Conference: FOOD MICRO 2014- From Single Cells to Functions of Consortia in Food Microbiology, 1st – 4th September 2014, Nantes, France.
  • Molecular analysis of microbial community associated with traditional fermented bamboo shoot products of Manipur (India). Romi, W., Jeyaram, K. (Oral). 2nd Indian Youth Science Congress (IYSC), 26th – 28th June 2010, SRM University, Chennai, India.
  • Heritage Food and Beverage Research, A Research and Community Development Programme of ST/SC (Funding agency: DST, Govt. of India) (Total grant: 1404.67 lakhs) (Role: Co-PI) (Duration: 3 years) (submitted; under financial concurrence)
  • Understanding the mechanisms of resistance to sucking pest, Helopeltis theivora, and development of microbe-based bioformulation against major tea pests (BT/PR24618/NER/95/ 779/ 2017) (Funding agency: DBT, Govt. of India) (Total grant: 109.20 lakhs) (Role: Co-PI) (2019 – 2022)
  • Exploration and conservation of antimicrobial metabolites producing Actinobacteria prevalent in protected forest ecosystems of North East India to develop an antimicrobial metabolites producing actinobacterial database (AMPAD) for utilization against human and microbial pathogens, agro-protection and production system (BT/PR25029/NER/95/967/2017) (Funding agency: DBT, Govt. of India) (Total grant: 103.00 lakhs) (Role: Co-PI) (2019 – 2022)
  • Human microbiome as a therapeutic target for improving women health: Role of vaginal and gut microbiota in the onset and pathogenesis of premature natural menopause (DST/INSPIRE/04/2016/000184) (Funding agency: DST, Govt. of India) (Total grant: 35.00 lakhs) (Role: PI) (2016 – 2021)
  • Culture-dependent and culture-independent molecular microbial community analysis of traditional fermented bamboo shoot products of North-Eastern India (09/1044/(0001)/2011/EMR-I) (Funding agency: CSIR, Govt. of India) (CSIR-SRF project under Ph.D. Mentor) (2011 – 2013)

Research scholars:

  • Moirangthem Goutam Singh (ICMR-JRF) (2020 – Till date) (Topic of research: Gut microbiota and cardiovascular disease in relation to dietary practices)
  • Debashree Deka (Project Fellow) (2019) (Topic of research: Reproductive tract and gut microbiome in premature natural menopause)
  • Anushka Khasnobish (Research Assistant) (2017 – 2018) (Topic of research: Reproductive tract and gut microbiome in premature natural menopause) (currently pursuing Ph.D. research in the Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan under the Japanese Government Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship 2018)

Dissertation students, internship trainees:

  • Jugal Barman (Summer Internship Trainee) (B. Tech. Biotechnology, Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior) (Topic: Impact of different cell lysis principles on the extraction of vaginal metagenomic DNA) (May – Jul 2019)
  • Kingshuk Panda (Summer Internship Trainee) (M.Sc. Applied Microbiology, School of Bio-Science and Technology, VIT, Vellore) (Topic: ARDRA-based investigation of lactic acid bacteria from an unreported fermented buttermilk- ghol) (May – Jul 2019)
  • Pooja Yadav (Summer Internship Trainee) (M.Sc. Applied Microbiology, Institute of Science, BHU, Varanasi) (Topic: Culturable microbial community of a fermented fish product – shidal) (May – Jul 2018) (currently working as Project Technical Officer, Directorate of Health Services, Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh)
  • Chehnaz Sultana (Summer Internship Trainee) (B.Sc. Microbiology, Department of Microbiology, ADTU, Guwahati,) (Topic: Isolation and genomic DNA extraction from cultivable microbes of a fermented bamboo shoot of Nagaland) (Jun – Jul 2018)
  • Mrinmoy Patra (Dissertation) (M.Sc. Applied Microbiology, Institute of Science, BHU, Varanasi) (Topic: Molecular identification of culturable vaginal bacterial species of healthy reproductive-age women in North-East India) (Jan – Jun 2018) (currently JRF, Centre for Liver Research, School of Digestive and Liver Diseases, IPGMER, Kolkata)

Students with a good academic record who are interested in joining this research group can drop an e-mail highlighting your research interest along with your complete CV. Contact Dr. Wahengbam Romi at romiwahengbam[at]gmail[dot]com, romiwahengbam[at]iasst[dot]gov[dot]in.