Marine, Microbial Resource, Secondary Agriculture and Food Processing

The programme has been started with the overall aim to support R&D projects in all the related areas of Bioresources and Secondary Agriculture biomass biotransformations, bioresource systems analysis, and technologies associated with conversion or production of value added products and processes from natural resources.

Objectives of the Programme:

Following are the objective of the programme:

  • Fundamental and translational research for sustainable development of natural products from bioresources
  • R&D programme on secondary agriculture for both basic and applied research and product development with special emphasis on value addition of useful bioresources and production of enzymes, chemicals, marine products etc.
  • Bioresource characterization, inventorization and development of repositories/ germplasm bank for conservation and supply of bioresources to academia and industry.
  • Biotechnological interventions for sustainable bio-economy through characterization, prospection, conservation and utilization of bioresources.
  • Capacity development and public outreach on bioresources importance, diversity and conservation, and national and international conventions / laws / regulations on bioresources access and benefit sharing.
  • Expansion of IBIN for providing complete information on the biodiversity of Hot spots in India and integration of IBIN data on Bhuvan Geo-portal.
  • Continuation of NCS-TCP activities towards production and distribution of quality planting material.
  • Mission programme on Biodiversity mapping at community level and National Coral Reef mission using high spatial and spectral data in collaboration with Department of Space

Some Success Stories:

  1. A major grand challenge programme for microbial prospecting was launched.
    Nearly 200 thousand microbes from niche areas were screened on HTS platforms on four different therapeutic areas namely Cancer, Diabetes, Inflammation and Anti-infectives. In the next phase, extracts that were taken up potent for the different bioactivity in study were into the next round of investigation referred to as ‘Chemical characterization’. A catalogue of 133 compounds (51 purified compounds and 82 Postulated structures) has been prepared mentioning the bioactivity and all other details of the microbes and also classifications.
  2. Microbial Culture Collection Centre (MCC) has been established at the National Centre for Cell Science, Pune.
    This is the largest such facility in the country and received ‘International Depositary Authority (IDA)’ recognition. It also acquired the status of ‘Designated Repository’ under the BD Act, 2002. MCC is also carrying out the task of characterizing and preserving nations’ precious microbial diversity. A Microbial Repository has also been established at IBSD, Imphal. More than 20,000 cultures of bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi and yeasts had been preserved and maintained in the repository.
  3. In the Network project on biotechnological interventions for pharmaceutically valuable compounds from forest resins detailed survey resulted in the identification of a few natural habitats of the targeted plant species Commiphora mukul and Boswellia serrata for further utilization of these species. Exhaustive chemical investigation of both the plants generated new knowledge in form of isolation protocols and development of HPLC methods that could be useful for other researchers working in this field.
  4. The largest onground quantitative assessment study was completed for the hot spots- Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats and North Eastern India. A first ever systematic attempt has been made for quantitative assessment of plant resources of Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  5. A number of projects have been supported for prospecting of novel genes, molecules, enzymes etc. from plants, microbes, fungi, lichens for production of potential products of industrial importance.
  6. A Monograph of Honey bee has been prepared and a repository of honey bees has been established at UAS Dharwad. A network project was supported for characterization, conservation, and value addition of Agarwood (Aquilaria malaccensis) using biotechnological approaches.
  7. Department has established the “National Certification System for Tissue Culture Raised Plants” (NCS-TCP) under the Section 8 of the Seeds Act, 1966 to provide support to the tissue culture industry for propagation and distribution of virus-free and quality tissue culture raised planting materials. At present, this certification system has standards for 8 crops, 5 Accredited Test Laboratories for testing of tissue culture plants and two referral centres for developing standards, referral testing and imparting training to Accredited Test laboratories.
  8. Department of Biotechnology and Department of Space have initiated a joint initiative on Biodiversity Characterization at Landscape Level using Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System.
  9. Camptothecin production technology has been developed from Newly Identified plant and fungal sources. Optimization of developed protocols is underway.
  10. A DBT supported multi-institutional research has developed method to speed up production of agarwood, a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense and perfume, from Aquilaria trees after they are wounded and infected by fungus. A patent has also been obtained on developed microbial consortium for infection mediated production of oleo resins from agarwood.
  11. Tea doubled haploids have been developed. Field transfer and acclimatization of double haploid plantlets is being done.
  12. In Lichens network for bioprospecting its secondary compounds and establishing cultures collections investigators successfully bring 31 species to culture. Investigators using a variety of separation techniques could isolate 25 different compounds, some of which displayed anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-mycobacterial and hepoto-protetive activities. One potential compound showed promising activity against MDR TB strains.
  13. Characterization and consolidation of Hippophae genetic resources and propagation of elite genotypes for varietal evaluation resulted into collection of many accessions of sea buckthorn.
  14. Mushroom Germplasm bank has been developed for Western coast of India. This will be helpful for prospecting potential nutraceutical and pharmaceutical compounds.

Outcome of last 5 years:

DBT’s efforts in this area of research has produced about 350 research papers during this plan period. About 15 scientific leads/ technologies have been developed which are in various stages of development. 10 patent applications have been filed. Towards promotion of S&T capacity in terms of Human Resources about 200 Junior & Senior Research Fellowships/Research Associateships and 50 others positions have been given in the R&D project.

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

Brainstorming meeting was conducted with an overall aim to identify priority areas and development of R&D project proposals in the area. The invited experts and Task Force members deliberated over various issues involved in R&D activities and unanimously agreed that there are wide gaps in this area of research; Gaps lie not only in understanding the magnitude of bioresources availability, but also in development of resource specific technologies for value addition and scale up. It was also unanimously agreed that any translational research and demonstration project in this area requires involvement of various stakeholders right from the beginning. After detailed discussion, the group has identified the following priority areas for undertaking R&D projects:

  1. Bioprospecting & Bio-efficacy Evaluation for products like Nutraceuticals, Traditional Fermented Foods/ Beverages, Natural Foaming Agents etc.
  2. Bioprospecting & Bio-efficacy Evaluation of plants like Invasive species.
  3. R&D on Biological Systems like Caterpillar fungus Cordyceps sinensis, Pistacia species, Commifera species, Moringa oleifera , Gums & Resins plants for Conservation, Cultivation and sustainable utilization.
  4. Value Addition to Raw Agriculture Waste like development and evaluation of pretreatment technologies for feed quality enhancement, value added products and processes from agriculture wastes.
  5. Value Addition and Upscaling of Safe Industrial Products like Lignin, Pectin, D- Allulose, Soymeal, Natural Gums & Resins, FDCA (2, 5-furandicarboxylic acid)
  6. Genetic Enhancement in plant system like amylose, amino acids and proteins enhancements in millets.
  7. Processes Improvement: Standardization and validation of product development pipelines, Separation of commercially important pigments in processed plant products, Products Standardization.
  8. Researchers can submit the project proposal in these priority areas through DBT online project Management System ( eProMis) without waiting for specific call for proposal:

Concerned Officer for more information

Programme Head Dr. Sundeep Sarin, Scientist G
Email sundeep[at]dbt[dot]nic[dot]in
Phone No. 011-24362931
Program Officer: Dr. Manoj Modi,Scientist E
Email manoj[dot]dbt[at]nic[dot]in
Phone No. 91-11-24369383
Attached Officer: Dr. Chandrabhan Dhruw ,Scientist C
Email chandra[dot]dhruw[at]dbt[dot]nic[dot]in
Phone No. -