Environmental Biotechnology

The programme has been started with the overall aim to support research and development programme in the areas relevant to waste management & environmental improvement.

Aim/Objectives of the Programme:

In Environmental Biotechnology programme R&D activities are focused on to support research and development programme in the areas relevant to waste management & environmental improvement, development & demonstration of wastewater specific effective bioremediation options like natural attenuation to bio-stimulation, bio-augmentation or a combination of filtration, phytoremediation and microbial degradation, Bio-restoration technologies for restoration of degraded ecosystems. New R&D programmes / projects have been initiated on various aspects of development of treatment process of industrial effluent, bioremediation of xenobiotic compounds, biodiversity conservation & characterization of biodiversity, carbon sequestration etc. River cleaning programme has also been started to develop and demonstrate various wastewater clean-up options. Department has also initiated R&D projects on remediation and reclamation of Hexa-Chloro-Cyclo-Hexane (HCH) dumpsite by using microbial bioremediation technology, bioconversion of CO2 to platform chemicals through microbial catalyzed electrochemical approaches, development and demonstration of pulp paper mill effluent detoxification technology after secondary treatment by combination of bio-augmentation and constructed wetland treatment process for re-use and prevention of river pollution, design of biosensor for detecting of xenobiotic pollutants in river water, development of novel fluorescent platforms for the detection of heavy metals in water etc.

Some Success Stories:

  1. Phytoremediation treatment process have been developed for the degradation of dyes from textile industrial effluent. The study showed that the developed process has the potential for textile dyes and effluent treatment. Studies to explore these plants in a constructed wetland system for textile effluent treatment at an industrial scale are underway.
  2. Lindane (Hexa-Chlorocyclohexane) bioremediation technology has been developed and demonstrated at plot trials. Study conducted on understanding genome organization and gene expression in HCH degrading bacteria. Potential HCH degraders were used to perform the biodegradation trials which revealed 51.7% degradation using a combination of biostimulation and bioaugmentation approach. Study also resulted into 10 genome announcements and more than 25 research publications. Field scale demonstration network project has also been started at Lucknow.
  3. Project on restoration ecology has successfully demonstrated the utilization of site specific restoration technology for mined out areas. Onsite restoration technology has been demonstrated for degraded mangrove habitats in Sunderban, West Bengal. A nursery harboring 22 mangrove species has been established at Sunderban. Molecular studies for the loss of mangrove ecosystem homeostasis has also been conducted and results indicated that synthesis of nitrogen-rich & energy-intensive organic solutes effects mangroves under degraded soil conditions.
  4. Paper and pulp industries are the source of high level of toxic contaminants for which different bioremediation processes involving the removal of contaminant through microbial consortia and phytoremediation are being optimized for demonstration on industrial site.
  5. Pan India network project on conservation of threatened plants of India has resulted into significant contributions on conservation, plant taxonomy, herbarium development, field germplasm bank development and improving conservation status. A special section of Current Science Journal (February 2018 issues) was dedicated specifically to the outcomes of this programme.
  6. Promising fungal consortium has been developed to decrease bioavailable fractions of arsenic in paddy soils and demonstrated low-grain arsenic in grown paddy crop plants. Field scale demonstration study is underway.
  7. Evaluation of advanced oxidation process as a post-treatment option for treated effluents from a sugar mill and distillery indicated its potential to further reduce residual COD, color and toxicity.
  8. Six microbial isolates identified showing degradation of pesticides CP (Chlor-pyrifos) and TCP (Tri-Chloro-Pyridinol) with good efficiency and faster doubling time. These isolates can be good candidates for developing microbial consortium for pesticides degradation.
  9. Novel fungal consortium used in bioreactor based mycoremediation of tannery effluent. This fungal consortium was able to effectively remediate diverse pollutants present in the tannery wastewater including. This ability of the consortium can be utilized for development of effective bioremediation options.
  10. Study of risk assessment of endosulfan in in- vitro cell models carried out. Outcomes have resulted into identification of well validated biological signatures of endosulfan toxicity.
  11. Study on evaluation of impact of elevated carbon dioxide on crop productivity and carbon sequestration reveals that in changing high CO2 climatic conditions, Brassica juncea (mustard) plants will have increased plant productivity and higher seed yield.
  12. Insights have been gained in meta-population dynamics (population dynamics, spatial ecology, conservation & management) of Tigers and other Carnivores in the Malenad-Mysore landscape of Karanataka
  13. A microbial technology for treatment of FOG (Fat, Oil, Grease) contaminated kitchen wastewater/ waste cooking oil has been developed. Process optimization studies at 10 ltr scale is being conducted.
  14. Design up-gradation of Vertical Sub-surface Flow Constructed Wetland units for treatment of Dairy Wastewater has been attempted. Initial experimental results have indicated 80-95 % reduction in BOD, TSS, Ammonia and TN.

Outcome of last 5 years:

DBT’s efforts spanning various areas of environmental challenges and sustainability over a period of 4 years has produced more than 200 research papers in peer-reviewed SCI indexed journals. Good number of human resources have been trained in forms of JRF/ SRF/ RA/ Project Assistants (including more than 150 Ph.D. students ) etc. Field scale demonstrations have been carried out for technologies for environmental management like CW technologies for textile and dairy wastewater etc.

Call for Proposal for current FY or New Programme Launched (if any)

With the objective to provide various possible environmental technologies, brainstorming and discussion meetings have been organised for strategy planning towards development of project proposals for various possible biotechnology options, identify gap areas and to develop translational research projects. Department has also identified priority research areas like development & demonstration of wastewater specific effective remediation options, technologies for solid waste management, remediation technologies for agricultural run-off for removal of chemical fertilizers and pesticide pollution, generate/formulate consortia from the existing isolates as well as new isolates for the site-specific remediation of xenobiotics from the environment etc.

Following are the Priority Areas in which Project Proposals are being accepted round the year. Researchers can submit the project proposal in these priority areas through DBT online project Management System ( eProMis) without waiting for specific call for proposal:

  • Development & Demonstration of wastewater specific effective remediation options (like Sewage wastewater, Dairy Wastewater, Textile Effluent, Tanneries Effluent, Pulp & Paper Industry Effluent, Sugar & Distillery Effluent, Sewage etc.).
  • Development & Demonstration of technologies for solid waste management (like Municipal Solid Waste, Electronic Waste, Plastics waste etc.). Research areas may include (i) Analysis of the microbial community that inhabit in the dumps and capable of bringing changes in building material, plastics and biomass; (ii) Isolation of new and novel microbes that decompose plastics, which can be used for efficient recycling of plastics that form a circular business involving plastics so that the plastics do not enter environment; (iii) Isolation of new and novel microbes that enhance methane production from biodegradable biomass dumped in the landfills.
  • Development and Demonstration of Remediation technologies for agricultural run-off for removal of chemical fertilizers and pesticide pollution.
  • Demonstration Projects on environmental conservation and eco-restoration.
  • Development and demonstration of technologies for management of Air Pollution Management (like Carbon Sequestration through microbial and enzymatic routes, Bio-filters for oxidation of air pollutants etc.), Noise Pollution, and Thermal Pollution of water bodies
  • Development of biosensors for detection and quantitation of pollutants per se as well as of their degradation products, to take complete care of the problem from the front end (early detection and warning system) to the back end (ensuring complete bioremediation or clean-up). Sensors that can in situ detect heavy metals, pesticides, toxin-generating blooms and antibiotic and other drugs would indeed be highly desirable. Biosensors need to be developed for our country-specific range of pollutants and ecological situations.
  • Project on development of conceptual models and Policy framework for circular bio-economy.
  • R&D to study environmental impact of Pharmaceutical micro-pollutants (like AMR) and Micro-plastics and development of mitigation strategies.
  • Translational research and demonstration projects on development of efficient microbial fuel cells for simultaneous bioelectricity generation and pollutants removal from wastewater.
  • Generate/formulate consortia from the existing isolates as well as new isolates for the site-specific remediation of xenobiotics from the environment.
  • Isolate or screen the existing isolates for their ability to produce biosurfactant and develop consortia of Biosurfactant producing microbes along with other xenobiotic degrading isolates, which will help in effective bioremediation. Other applications of Biosurfactants like in paints, food additives, oil spill containment, MEOR etc.

Concerned Officer for more information

Programme Head Dr. Mohd. Aslam,Scientist G
Email aslam[dot]dbt[at]nic[dot]in;
Phone No. 011-24363057
Program Officer: Dr. Onkar N. Tiwari,Scientist E
Email onkar[dot]dbt[at]nic[dot]in;
Phone No. 011-24361290