In March 2012 the third bioenergy centre was established at ICGEB New Delhi for strengthening the existing capacity in synthetic biology and to promote the cutting edge research in biofuel area. The centre is well equipped with a team of 15 researchers.
The major research themes of the Centre are
- Genomic and metagenomic approaches for identifying novel cellulolytic enzymes
- Engineering microbes for direct conversion of biomass into biofuel
- Engineering microbe for production of higher value advance biofuel molecules
Butanol & Hydrocarbon
- Engineering algae for higher lipid and biomass yield
Achievements so far
Few of the major scientific development taken place in last one year.
- Genome of a cellulolytic microbe, PaenibacillusICGEB2008, has been sequenced using ion torrent technology.
- System biology approach, to build a metabolic pathway model and to identify genes for key cellulolytic enzymes are underway.
- New cellulolytic microbes from insect gut have been identified and are being characterised for enzyme and biofuel production.
- The lab engineered C5/C6 fermenting microbe has been tested for fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysate obtained from IOCL and India Glycol. The ethanol yield obtained from C5/C6 sugar was ~0.45 g/g sugar.
- Cyanobacterial strains from Indian culture collection has been characterised for alkane/alkene production.
Several novel enzymes have been designed in silico and expressed in suitable hosts. The enzymes are modified for desirable features like temperature, alkalinity and inhibition tolerance.
Notable examples are thermostable β-xylosidase from Geobacillus thermodenitrificans, over-expressed in Escherichia coli and further improvement in characteristics by mutations; endocellulase and β-glucosidase with lower substrate inhibition and fusion proteins designed and expressed in E. coli in collaboration with DBT-ICT Centre for Energy Biosciences, ICT Mumbai; and design and expression of a non-specific lipase from Yarrowia lypolytica.
Results have been published in international journals and 3 patent applications filed.