The areas of research employing extremophilic microorganisms are as under:
- Microbial Biodiversity and Systematics
- Biotechnology of Extremophiles
- Gene Mining
Biodiversity is an attribute of an area and specifically refers to the varieties within and among living organisms, assemblage of the living organisms, biotic communities and biotic processes, whether naturally occurring or modified by humans. Interest in the biodiversity of extreme environments has grown over the past several years for several reasons, including the theory that such conditions were predominant on the young planet Earth. Thus early life forms may have consisted of organisms adapted to such environments, the so called extremophiles. The scientific benefits of microbial diversity research include a better understanding of the role and function of microbial communities in various terrestrial, marine, and aquatic environments. The economic and strategic benefits are the discovery of microorganisms for exploitation in biotechnological processes for new antibiotic and therapeutic agents, probiotics, novel fine chemicals, enzymes and polymers for use in industrial and scientific applications, for bioremediation of polluted environments, and bioleaching and recovery of minerals, as well as preparedness against exotic and emerging pathogens of humans, animals, and plants. Bioresource is a country’s most valuable source that can be exploited in many ways.
In this area of research, we survey potential sites for the acquisition of extremophilic microorganisms and then apply them in various projects being carried out at Bioprocess Technology Division for academic and commercial benefit. Preliminary characterisation of the enriched cultures was carried out for various growth affecting parameters viz., nutritional requirements, temperature, pH etc. Bacterial diversity is determined by16S rDNA sequence analysis.
The biocatalysts called extremozymes, produced by microorganisms function under extreme conditions and offer new opportunities for biocatalysis and biotransformation. These microorganisms have the potential to produce multiple enzymes. These enzymes find large variety of applications in detergents, food industries, health product manufacturing, leather and pharmaceutical industries. So this program was initiated to isolate and characterize industrially important extremozyme producing strains.
Horizontal gene exchange by mobile genetic elements can be seen as a natural phenomenon for bacterial adaptation and for successful colonization of ecological niches, so mobile genetic elements are extremely important for organisms since they endow them with genetic variability and flexibility so they can respond to environmental stress. A large proportion of genetic information is yet to be discovered in both known and unknown gene families. Regarding the usefulness of non-traditional gene recovery strategies, gene mining is a useful tool to uncover this genetic diversity in bacterial genome. Integron genetic unit that includes genes of a site specific recombination system capable of capturing and mobilizing genes contained in mobile elements called gene cassettes. Cassettes are inserted into or excised from integrons by a site-specific recombination reaction catalyzed by the integron integrase, IntI. Gene mining with the help of integron capturing technique is an easy approach for gene hunt having advantage of the presence of specific priming sites for PCR.
Nature of Business: Basic and Applied
Development of a culture collection and bioresource centre, which will act as a reference laboratory in the country to cater requirements of organizations in the area of biotechnology and genetic engineering.