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DBT harnessing marine resources for human benefit

marine infographics

Rapid fire:

  • Bioactive molecules and biomaterials identified
  • Anti-pathogenic compound isolated from marine cyanobacteria, anti-malarial compounds from marine organisms, anti-inflammatory compounds from marine macro-algae
  • Marine carotenoids found capable of modulating age-related macular degeneration & retinol deficiency, marine carotenoid astaxanthin protective effect in retinol deficiency
  • DNA bar-coding & phylogeny of commercially valuable marine molluscs recorded 30 species from west coast & 40 species from Lakshadweep Sea
  • Database on molluscan fauna of India representing 774 species prepared
  • Nine distinct cone snail species have been obtained and taxonomically identified

DBT’s support has helped researchers identify several bioactive molecules and biomaterials that can be utilized in myriad ways. An anti-pathogenic compound has been identified from marine cyanobacteria by scientists from Alagappa University, which can help preventing bacterial infections in aquatic organisms. The pure compound hexadecanoic acid was evaluated for its Quorum Sensing Inhibitory activity against aquatic bacterial pathogens and found effective.

Diagnostics and vaccines for the aquaculture sector have been developed by promoting advances in the application of molecular biology. Prospecting for anti malarial from marine organisms was carried out at ICGEB, New Delhi, IICT, Hyderabad, CDRI Lucknow and University of Kerala. More than 200 marine organisms have been screened and a sponge and ascidian among them have been identified as a rich library of potent anti malarial compounds.

Screening for anti-inflammatory compounds from marine macroalgae was undertaken at Madurai College, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Seaweeds were collected from Mandapam, Rameshwaram used to analyze their phytochemical constituents. Eicosanoid molecules were identified from Marine seaweeds Hypnea musciformis. Terpenoids, a class of naturally occurring organic chemical, present in seaweeds were being analyzed for having potential anti-inflammatory activity.

Effectiveness of marine carotenoids in modulating age-related macular degeneration and retinol deficiency induced biochemical changes has been implemented at Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore. The study used chitosan and fucoxanthin (FUCO) from shrimp carapace and brown seaweed as marine bio-actives. Bio-efficacy studies conducted with vitamin A deficiency model helps in concluding FUCO’s improved stability in modulating biochemical complications.

In another study, marine carotenoid astaxanthin has shown to have a protective effect in experimental retinol deficiency.

DNA Bar-coding and Biodiversity
Work on biodiversity, DNA bar-coding and phylogeny of commercially valuable marine molluscs of India, was carried out at RGCB, Trivandrum. Thirty species were recorded for the first time from the west coast of India and 40 species recorded for the first time from Lakshadweep Sea. Twelve of the new species collected were cephalopods (one new species of bobtail squid Euprymnasp. nov., 10 species of octopods 4 new species of Amphioctopus, 2 new species of Callistoctopus, one new species of Cistopusand 3 new species of Octopus). One new species of Harpago (Gastropoda, Strombidae) was also collected.

The study shows greater diversity of gastropods (70%), followed by bivalves (20%) and cephalopods (9%). A database on molluscan fauna of India representing 774 species has been prepared. A total of around 1672 specimens of marine molluscs were collected from Indian coast during the survey and confirmed barcodes were developed for 132 species.

Toxins of Therapeutic Value
A peptide toxin of therapeutic value from toxoglossan molluscs of Indian coasts was studied at Indian Institute of Science, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Annamalai University and Andhra University. In this project nine distinct cone snail species have been obtained and taxonomically identified. The venom apparatus has been characterised chemically and histo-chemically. Isolation, characterisation, three dimensional structure determination studies, protocol for chemical synthesis and oxidative folding have been developed as part of the study.

Repository of marine cyanobacteria and microalgae, Bharathi dasan University, Tiruchirapalli National Repository for Microalgae and Cyanobacteria presently maintains 600 marine microalgae inclusive of 40 polar psychrophilic strains. So far 58 research institutions benefited with the supply of 295 strains, of which, 50 strains were given to 10 institutions during last year.

The Department has also encouraged many young researchers by formulating good proposals with industrial applications on industrial products and processes by improving infrastructure at various institutions.