Friday, April 16, 2021
Biotechnalogy of Prebiotics and Animicrobials



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Group Leader:

Dr. Munir Ahmad Anwar

Principal Scientist


Team Members:

  • Dr. Muhammad Afzal Ghauri    (Deputy Chief Scientist)
  • Mrs. Shazia Khaliq (Senior Scientist)
  • Mr. Amer Zahid (Senior Scientific Assistant)
  • Ms. Asma Munir (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Anam Nasir (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Fizza Ashraf (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Iram Ashfaq (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Neelma Ashraf (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Komal Ghauri (MPhil Leading to PhD Student)
  • Ms. Iqra Jawad  (PhD Student)
  • Ms. Amna Shah (PhD Student)
  • Mr. Waqar Ahmad (PhD Internee)


Biotechnology of Prebiotics and Antimicrobials is a relatively new research area in the Industrial Biotechnology Division. In this research group, the research objectives have further been categorized into two themes i.e. Prebiotics (Dr. Munir A. Anwar) and Antimicrobials (Dr. Shazia Khaliq).

Biosynthesis and Applications of Prebiotics

Many plant, fungal and bacterial species are capable of producing fructan polymers and/or fructooligosaccharides (FOS) that can be distinguished by the type of glycosidic linkages between fructosyl units. So far, two main types of fructans have been identified: inulins and levans, containing β(2-1) and β(2-6) linked fructosyl units, respectively. Fructans retain proven prebiotic properties and are emerging as functional foods that can address health issues by protection from gastroenteritis, immune regulation, improved digestion and gut function. We are exploring different microbial systems (bacteria, fungi, archaea) and their enzymes with an aim to acquire highly efficient strains/enzymes capable of synthesizing novel prebiotics from cheaper raw materials. Moreover, we are also exploring the potential of prebiotics as feed additives, modulators of gut microbiota and for pharmaceutical applications.


Biosynthesis of bioactive compounds/antimicrobials from Streptomyces / Bacillus spp. and applications


Streptomyces are Gram-positive, filamentous soil bacteria with great industrial relevance, as they produce clinically important antibiotics and other bioactive molecules for medical, veterinary and agricultural use. Their ability to synthesize diverse natural products is temporally and genetically coordinated with a complex developmental life cycle. They grow as a vegetative mycelium of branching hyphae and disperse via spores formed on specialized reproductive structures called aerial hyphae. The main objective of this project is to explore and characterize the indigenous Streptomyces spp. producing bioactive compounds and molecular pathways (NRPSs & PKSs) involved behind their synthesis and characterization of compounds to find out novel ones.

Lipopeptide biosurfactants are surface active biomolecules that are produced by a variety of microorganisms. Microbial lipopeptides have gained the interest of microbiologists, chemists and biochemists for their high biodiversity as well as efficient action, low toxicity and good biodegradability in comparison to synthetic counterparts. Our group has an interest in the microbial production of lipopeptide biosurfactants having antifungal and antibacter ial potential from Bacillus spp. and their potential industrial applications


The specific objectives of our research are:

  • Exploring bacterial, archaeal and plant systems for prebiotic (exopolysaccharides e.g. fructans & glucans) synthesizing enzymes
  • Characterizing genes and enzymes (fructosyltransferase: FTF and Glucosyltransferase: GTF) involved in exopolysaccharide synthesis
  • Protein Engineering  for generating FTF and GTF enzymes with desired properties
  • Bioprocess development for the synthesis of novel prebiotic compounds from economical substrates for industrial applications (animal feed, food etc.)
  • Exploring the potential of prebiotics as feed additives, modulators of gut microbiota and for pharmaceutical applications
  • Identification and characterization of bioactive compounds with antimicrobial properties produced by Streptomyces sp. and exploring biosynthetic pathways involved in the synthesis of these compounds.


Salient Facilities:


  1. Thermocycler for Standard and Gradient PCR
  2. Gel Electrophoresis Units for DNA and Proteins
  3. Sonicator
  4. Freeze Dryer
  5. Fermenter
  6. Shaking Incubators (4° C to 70° C)
  7. UV-Visible Spectrophotometers
  8. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)


HD photographs of Lab Activities



Funded Research Projects:


  1. Microbial production of prebiotic fructans for application in food, feed and pharmaceutical industry. Worth PKR 4.84 millions. Funded by Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Munir A. Anwar).
  2. Characterizing prebiotic synthesizing autochthonous microbial systems for industrial applications. Worth PKR 3.22 millions. Funded by HEC. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Munir A. Anwar).
  3. Strain improvement for hyper production of lipopeptide surfactin by Bacillus sp. for various industrial applications. Worth PKR 2.0 millions. Funded by HEC. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Shazia Khaliq).
  4. Production, characterization and evaluation of agro-active compounds from rhizospheric Streptomyces spp. Worth PKR 4.0 millions. Funded by HEC. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Shazia Khaliq).
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