Silk Biotechnology Programme: Significant achievements

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) works closely with the Central Silk Board (CSB).

DBT and CSB have not only organised several brainstorming sessions jointly to identify thrust area programmes in both and mulberry and non-mulberry sericulture (tasar, muga, eri), but also have funded 13 projects jointly; many institutions of CSB are also supported by the DBT.

DBT also works with sericulture institutes of the major silk producing states particularly Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Control of major diseases / pests of silkworm

  • An integrated pest management package developed for the control of uzifly, a major pest of silkworm at field level. The officers from 59 cocoon markets and State Sericulture Department of Karnataka were trained in mass multiplication and release of an insect parasitoid – Nesolynx thymus.
  • Now parasitoid being multiplied regularly for its release in 20 major cocoon markets as well as supplying to sericulture farmers when they visit for cocoon transaction.
  • Immunodiagnostic kits have been developed for early detection of pebrine, grasserie and infectious flecherie diseases of silkworm. Limited field trials have also been carried out.
  • A Multi-institutional Network Project on identification of DNA marker for NPV resistance in silkworm has been launched involving CDFD, Hyderabad, along with other four institutions of Central Silk Board and State Governments. A collaborative project on identification of DNA markers linked to QTLs (cocoon weight and cocoon shell weight) also launched. A Bomby mori gene that code for anti-viral (BmNPV) protein has been partially characterised.

Silkworm as Bioreactor

  • DBT’s efforts are for using the silkworm as a bioreactor – both for producing products useful to the silk industry as well as other sectors.
  • Expression of marker proteins (luciferase and green fluorescent protein) successfully achieved.
  • Using BmNPV cell-surface display system, expression of veterinary viral antigens such as fusion glycoprotein (F) of PPRV and hemagglutinin protein (H) of RPV have been achieved on the surface of virions and on the surface of infected cell-lines in cultures as well as infected silkworm larvae (B. mori). Work on immune response and challenge tests of PPRV antigens produced through Bm NPV expression system in silkworm larvae has been carried out in collaboration with IVRI, Mukteshwar.

Improvement of Post-harvest Technology of Silk and By-product Utilisation

  • A process has been successfully developed for degumming of silk with fungal protease enzyme as a valuable alternative to the existing methods. This will lead to improvement in the quality of fabric (finished product).
  • A project on standardisation of process for the production and application of sericin to textile fabrics is in progress. Process for the recovery and production of sericin from waste silk has been standardised. Sericin powder shows antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.
  • Transgenic mulberry lines with HVA-1 gene for abiotic stress tolerance have been developed. Field evaluation of abiotic stress tolerant mulberry transgenics (with HVA-1 gene) has been initiated jointly with Sericulture institute.
  • Efforts are underway for developing EST library from mulberry for abiotic stress tolerance.