• National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria

    (Sponspored by DBT, Govt of India)

    BHARATHIDASAN UNIVERSITY, TIRUCHIRAPPALLI- 620024

RESEARCH PROJECTS - ONGOING & COMPLETED

ONGOING PROJECTS

Bioinformatics Centre
Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India
Grants: 235.58 Lakhs
Period: 2001 - 2020
Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

The Bioinformatics Centre a Sub Centre -Distributed Information Centre (Sub-DIC) at Bharathidasan University is an offshoot of National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria (NFMC) sponsored by DBT Govt of India is exclusively started to work on the primordial organism the cyanobacteria, since its inception 2001.
The pioneering work by this center in cyanobacterial bioinformatics are: for the first time discretely shown the four types of SOD forms; and no canonical form is there in cyanobacteria; characterized Mn SOD of cyanobacteria, Found one of the cyanobacterial plasmid to be an episome; active PEPcase is there only from middle order of cyanobacteria; Uranium can induce siderophore and bind to it; GST types and classes are totally different from the existing eu- and pro- karyotic types.
Centre has good infrastructure facility, which supports NFMC and Department of Marine Biotechnology and other life science students of University in Bioinformatics. The centre conducts National level workshop annually, which adds up the knowledge and man power to the field of cyanobacterial Bioinformatics. The pioneering work NFMC and sub DIC together had done a pioneering work in marine cyanobacteria and cyanobacterial Bioinformatics and been an eye-opener for cyanobacterial research in India, other than biofertilizers.

Indo-US Advanced Bioenergy Consortium (IUABC)
Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India
Grants: 49.918 Lakhs
Period: 2016 - 2019
Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

The Indo-US Advanced Bioenergy Consortium (IUABC) in its Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC) joint project in the priority area of Second Generation Biofuels. Under the joint leadership of Dr. Ashwani Pareek (Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India), Dr. Pramod Wangikar (IIT Bombay, Mumbai, India) and Dr. Himadri Pakrasi (Washington University in St. Louis, US),. In addition to the academic partners, the IUABC also has Reliance Industries Ltd. and Bioseed Research India Ltd. as industry partners. The project tries to screen more number of organism from its repository for identify higher lipid producer. As morphology is a challenging task, the project tries to use CCM and kai genes as molecular markers.


COMPLETED PROJECTS

Estabilishment of National Repository for Microalgae and Cyanobacteria
Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India
Grants: 170.70 Lakhs
Period: 2015 - 2018
Dr. D. Prabaharan - PI
Dr. L. Uma- Co - PI

National Repository for Microalgae and Cyanobacteria established at Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu is exclusively for marine Microalgae and Cyanobacteria. Presently the repository houses marine mesophiles, hypersaline forms, thermophiles and psychrophiles. The repository maintains the Arctic and Antarctic cultures at 4 and 15 ± 2 oC, marine mesophiles at 25 ± 2oC and thermophilic strains at 45 ± 2 ± oC. This year with the addition of 34 new isolates the repository now holds 1034 strains. NRMC has also supplied 29 Microalgal strains to 10 research institutes from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. NRMC has partcipated in the Workshop titled “Microbiome analysis for data sharing” during 14.10.2017 to 31.10.2017 organized by World Data Center for Microorganisms (WDCM), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. All the strain list along with microscopic image and GPS data are available at NRMC dedicated website http://nfmc.bdu.ac.in

Comprehensive analysis of Cyanobacterial Glutathione S- Transferases: New Insights and Perspectives

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 49.40 Lakhs

Period: 2013 - 2017

Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) is the single most significant enzyme in metabolism and detoxification in all prokaryote and eukaryotes. These GSTs are multifunctional enzymes belong to a group of xenobiotics metabolizing phase II detoxification enzymes that act as a defense mechanism against chemically induced toxicity. GSTs catalyze the nucleophilic attack of the sulphur atom of GSH on the electrophilic group of numerous types of xenobiotics and could also detoxify pesticides. As our preliminary study of GST and their related enzymes indicated that cyanobacterial group holds GST which remains unique in its nature. For the first time, attempt was made to portray the GST enzymes and its types available in cyanobacterial system through genome wide hunt from available genome (45 completed, 69 in pipeline) and public databases followed by ascertaining its binding affinity of GST with xenobiotics compounds. Based on the GSH activating residues in the N-terminal end, cyanobacterial GSTs are categorized into three types namely;S/C, S/Y and Y types. S/y and Y types are more active. The GST expression for selected xenobiotics has amply demonstrated the degradation efficacy, the presence of new class of GSTs and variations in the lower, middle and higher orders as revealed by RT PCR in silico and in vivo studies. Out of newly identified nine forms, Chi, cGStX3, cGSTX11 isoforms got expressed at higher levels.

Adaptive responses of psychrophilic (Arctic) and mesophilic cyanobacterial diazotrophs to temperature regimes

Sponsored Agency: UGC, Govt. of India

Grants: 15.85 Lakhs

Period: 2013 - 2017

Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

The study of thermal adaptation abilities of mesophilic and psychrophilic forms of filamentous heterocystous cyanobacteria at different temperature regimes was able to fix CO2 by RuBisCO, Carbonic Anhydrase, Phosphoenol pyruvate carboxylase, and malate dehydrogenase at their respective optimal temperatures. The nitrogen fixation abilities of the isolates under different temperatures when tested shows that, psychrophilic organisms at higher temperatures of 20℃ exhibited higher nitrogen fixation rates. The expression of the antioxidative enzymes were higher at elevated temperatures in both the organisms. In short the study reveals though the organisms were isolated from polar regions and collected from psychrophilic, they seem to be psychrotolerant.

Indo - UK, Sustainable bio-energy from microalgae - A systems perspective

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 152.272 Lakhs

Period: 2013 - 2017

Dr. L. Uma- PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan - Co - PI

Microalgae are promising feedstock for biofuel production. Biodiesel fuels are attracting increasing attention worldwide as blending components or direct replacements for diesel fuel in vehicle engines. The microalgal metabolic pathway is heavily influenced by environmental factors, for instance, lipid metabolism can be influenced by nitrogen limiting conditions. However, the underlying mechanisms of lipid biosynthesis are unclear. In this Indo-UK Sustainable bioenergy from microalgae -A system perspective collaboration project, we have developed and optimized quick and reliable analytical methods to evaluate fatty acid profile and lipid productivity and investigated the effects of light Intensity, C, N, P and identify potential bottlenecks to biomass and biodiesel production with its collaborative partners. By Response Surface Methodology using various N and P sources the higher lipid producing condition was identified. Among the screened 150 microalgae and cyanobacteria Chlorella vulgaris BDUG 91771 accumulated the highest lipid content of 23%. Experiments carried out bench-scale photobioreactors in outdoor conditions with modified seawater medium to the tune of 4000 liters for a period of 30 days. It was also successfully grown in the calcium-rich effluent with flue gas (CO2, NO2, SO2) in a mass cultivation tank designed by NFMC, Bharathidasan University with ossein effluent as growth medium at on site (Pioneer Jellice, SIPCOT, Cuddalore ) at 1500L for period of 30 days. Furthermore, systems level studies are needed to find the pathways to up regulate it lipid production to enhance microalgal biofuel production.

  • University of Sheffield, Sheffield,
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge
  • Scottish Association of Marine Science, Scotland
  • Cell Culture for Algae and Protozoa, Scotland
  • Lady Doak College, Madurai

Molecular diversity of Indian freshwater and marine cyanobacterial isolates from ‘Hot Spots’ and their biotechnological potents as biosurfactants.

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 32.75 Lakhs

Period: 2012 - 2015

Dr. D. Prabaharan - PI
Dr. L. Uma - Co - PI

The cyanobacteria occupy a unique position possess autotrophic mode of growth like eukaryotic plant cells and a metabolic system as that of bacteria. These organisms have wide range of physiological and biochemical potentialities as the source of proteins, lipids, pigments, drugs, animal feed and certain other value added products. The use of recent biotechnological techniques has produced strains that possess an optimum set of properties for their use in waste water treatment, purification of polluted water, production of fine chemicals, production of fuel and therapeutic properties. Considering the vast potentialities of these organisms, the project has identified two marine isolates that produces exopolysaccharide and its physico-chemical properties have been looked into. The strains exhibited biosurfactant and bioflocculant properties and need to be explored further.
An important component of such a project is the determination of the whole genome especially from the regions which are the ‘hot spots’ of biotechnologically important 2 organisms belonging to the same genera. Partial sequencing of plasmid of NFMC isolate indicates that it is an episome. Though cyanobacteria in general has a commonality, among genera and the environmental species they seem to differ in physiology and biotechnological potentials (pigment production, lipid production, CO2 tolerance, salt tolerance, Hydrogen production, and ability to degrade pollutants. As genomics revolution has impacted all fields of biology, comparing the whole genome sequence of two cyanobacteria belonging to the genera will give a new understanding to phylogentics, or phylogenomics. Likewise, sequencing these strains will also allow researchers to better understand how they are genetically distinct based on ecology. And it is pivotal for the development indigenous vectors. Any advancement in this direction paves a way to improve our transgenic technology and two whole genomes of Indian isolates has been completed and its sequence analysis is being done.

Repository of marine cyanobacteria a s biodiesel feed stock

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 70.35 Lakhs

Period: 2009 - 2013

Dr. D. Prabaharan - PI
Dr. L. Uma- Co - PI

Globally, biodiesel is a firm expanding industry that is facing a growing dilemma of exploring feedstock. There are many options in this area, but unlike solar, nuclear, and fossil fuels, biodiesel have the capability of providing a fuel source ideally suited to replace fossil fuel and fulfil the existing demand. Microalgae are tiny sun light driven cell factories having been projected as one of the most promising feed stock for biodiesel production since they accumulate oil and exhibits faster growth compared to other energy crops without competing for arable land. Our research on microalgal biodiesel production with the identified marine green algae from different geographical regions of south east coast in Tamil Nadu resulted in the identification of Chlorella sp. BDU G91771 that approximately yielded 23% lipid content. Outdoor mass cultivation technology has been developed to the tune of 5KL in a seawater based cost effective medium effectively for about two months. The project also attempted to develop effective flocculation, method namely coupled with high floc recovery, cell viability and least co-precipitation. The most striking observation of this study is the fuel properties of biodiesel meets ASTM and EN standards. In order to evaluate the suitability of biodiesel CI engine on fuel consumption and brake thermal efficiency of B30,B40and B50 is on par with diesel fuel.

CO2 sequestration of marine cyanobacteria for multiple utilization potentials

Sponsored Agency: DST, Govt. of India

Grants: 49.08 Lakhs

Period: 2009 - 2012

Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

Rapidly growing concern on global warming is attributed to the elevated CO2 in the atmosphere and has instigated the necessity to find an efficient way to mitigate carbon dioxide. Currently, CO2 can be sequestered by chemical, biological and geological methods. Biological carbon sequestration has gained attention as it results in the production of biomass and energy. Cyanobacteria the oxy - phototrophs possess much higher growth rate and ability to fix CO2 while capturing the solar energy with much greater efficiency over the terrestrial plants because of its surface area and had existed since primordial years. Having evolved at CO2 rich atmospheres, these organisms are plausible candidates for carbon sequestration. 18 organisms representing three different orders have been screened from the National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria for their carbon dioxide tolerance. The major carbon fixing enzymes of C3 and C4 cycles are also being studied for their role in carbon fixation at higher concentration of CO2. For the first time, by in silico analysis of CO2 fixing enzymes phosphoenol pyruvate carboxylase and Ribulose 1,5 bis phosphate carboxylase/oxygenase ambiguity among cyanobacteria high CO2 fixing capabilities in lower, middle and higher orders have been untangled. Our current research throws light upon calcifying potentials of the cyanobacteria (biological CO2 fixation) at continuous carbon dioxide in order to convert CO2 to insoluble form as CaCO3. The selected strain was successfully grown with continuous flow of carbon dioxide at concentration near to flue gas and at point source with un-scrubbed flue gas with calcium, chloride rich effluent with less amendments.

Marine cyanobacteria - a potential candidate for uranium mining

Sponsored Agency: DAE, Govt. of India

Grants: 21.72 Lakhs

Period: 2009 - 2012

Dr. L. Uma - PI
Dr. D. Prabaharan- Co - PI

Increasing contamination of the environment by uranium on account of its mining and disposal of tailings is a worldwide problem and uranium recovery will benefit a lot. Microbial interactions with metals form an important part of the natural biogeochemical processes and have important consequences for human society. It is therefore, vital to advance our understanding of the metal-microbe interactions that may include physical and chemical adsorption, ion exchange coordination, complexation, chelation and micro-precipitation in order to develop suitable bioremediation strategies for metal contaminated sites. Siderophores, constitute a major class of naturally occurring chelators that includes hydroxamate, catecholate, and carboxylic acid functional groups secreted by microorganisms in various habitats, which bind to iron and mediate its transport to the cell. Wet lab studies corroborate the siderophore production in marine cyanobacterium Synecoccocus elongatus BDU130911 and were identified as hydroxamate type. Hydroxamate siderophore complexation with uranium was estimated to be 50% by Chrome Azurol S modified assay. In order to substantiate wet lab analysis, in silico docking was performed between Desferroxamine (a standard hydroxamate type) with Fe3+and UO2+. Docking studies validates the hydroxamate siderophore to bind effectively with UO2+ like that of Fe3+. This finding was the first report in marine cyanobacteria that has elucidated uranium siderophore complexation through in vitro and in silico analysis.

Marine Cyanobacteria - A Potential Target for Hydrogen Photo Production

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 27.03 Lakhs

Period: 2006 - 2009

Dr. D. Prabaharan - PI
Dr. L. Uma - Co - PI

Hydrogen produced from conventional non-renewable energy sources such as coal and electricity are not only cost intensive also produces greenhouse gases alleged in global warming. Environmentally, hydrogen is the cleanest fuel as it liberates only water on combustion with oxygen. Biological hydrogen production is one of the best alternative ways, since, it has number of advantages over non-biological hydrogen production. Though a number of microorganisms produce hydrogen, cyanobacteria seem to be the best candidates since, these unique photosynthetic prokaryotes having an edge over other bacteria as they show wide adaptation and play an important role in CO2 assimilation; nitrogen fixation, has trophic independence for nitrogen making the inputs economical and also oxygenate the environment. The only major inputs for photo-biological hydrogen production are solar energy, and water (seawater in marine cyanobacteria. The major bottle neck is oxygen co-production. The major outcome of this project is identification of a marine cyanobacteria capable of growing in methane atmosphere, and continuously photo produce hydrogen without oxygen coproduction in the gaseous atmosphere by screening 50 marine cyanobacteria.

Over expression of engineered SOD enzyme in marine cyanobacteria for bioremediation purposes

Sponsored Agency: DBT, Govt. of India

Grants: 27.57 Lakhs

Period: 2003 - 2007

Dr. D. Prabaharan - PI
Dr. L. Uma - Co - PI

Super oxide dismutase is the first line of defense enzyme, that degrades recalcitrant chemicals. Cyanobacterial super oxide dismutases were ambiguous and every SOD had been identified as putative. Our aim was to identify, the exact type of SOD and engineer them to overproduce SOD to bioremediate the recalcitrant textile dyes. The pioneering research of the project for the first time was to identify the distinct Mn, FE, Cu/Zn, and Ni cyanobacterial SODS and to first report there is no canonical form in cyanobacteria. Cyanobacterial SOD and azoreductase enzyme was able to decolourise and degrade the most stable recalcitrant diazo dye C.I acid Black 1 and Ponceau S. The phenomenon behind bioremediation is active oxygen species (AOS), and enzymes were constitute. Aromatic ring cleavage leading to complete mineralization has been proved by Rothera reaction. Mn SOD has been also partially sequenced.