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Bioenergy Programme: Feedstock development
Jatropha Micro Mission
Objective of the DBT Jatropha Micro mission was to develop elite and improved material of Jatrophacurcas for large scale plantation in the country. It also undertook to collect, select, screen, evaluate, characterise and improve the genetic material available in the country; and develop practices for its cultivation as energy crop in line.
More than 1,200 collections have been made from throughout the country by DBT Network participating institutes. Out of these 890 collections were accessioned in the National Register; these accessions have also been cryo-preserved in the gene bank at NBPGR, New Delhi.
The selected material was bulked up to raise nearly 17 lakh plants by clonal propagation. These elite clonal plants were shared with various beneficiaries of the MNRE, state governments, forest departments, military establishments, Defence Research and Development Organisation, NGOs and corporations working under PPP mode.
Multilocation trial of 20 promising accessions was initiated in 2007 to study the effect of set agronomy practices, soil and agro-climatic conditions on performance of accessions at 9 partner institutes. These demonstration trials apart from identifying 400 elite selections also help to identify major constraints in block plantation, conditions responsible for poor performance in the field.
DBT had prepared operational guidelines for cultivation of Jatropha; however different agro climatic conditions required specific interventions. Cultivation practices for sites with different stress, factors like aridity, salinity, alkalinity, poor soil nutrients etc. are being developed by planned experiments at different sites in the country through Network trials of DBT, NOVOD Board and ICAR networks.
In addition to agronomy trials, 100 accessions are also being tested for silvicultural trial along with agro climatic performances. The consolidated report on field performance data is being prepared.
Multilocation Trials
The major conclusions made on DBT Multilocation Network Trial for Improvement of Jatropha are as below:
  • Best performing accessions were: IC 553592 from Biotech Park, Lucknow; IC 550461& 550462 from HNBU Garhwal; IC 471357 from NBRI Lucknow; IC 471344 from NBRI, Lucknow.
  • Performance with Bio-fertilisers found as good as chemical fertilisers (sodic soils).
  • Yield in irrigated trials 2.8 times better than poorly irrigated conditions.
  • Survivals high at North East locations.
  • Performance at sodic soil sites was poor for initial two to three years.
  • Extended and severe heat and drought resulted in very high mortality at Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (almost all of agri-climatic zones)
  • This mortality also associated with deadly fungal infection followed by termite infestation. Macrophomina phaseolina and related fungi caused major damage at several sites in the country.
Conservation and resource maintenance of selected Jatropha germplasm
Jatropha germplasm resource Centre have been established at 3 different states (Haryana, Assam and Gujarat) for Conservation of 500 accessions of Jatrophacurcasas clonal material and seedling material for future improvement, multiplication and bulking.
R&D for Jatropha improvement
Jatropha productivity cannot be enhanced without genetic improvement of the land race already available in the country. A programme was initiated under the DBT Network on improvement of Jatropha by screening, breeding and through marker assisted selection and metabolic pathway engineering.
Genetic improvement of Jatropha
Twenty five F1 intraspecific hybrids were developed; these intraspecific F1 hybrids were selfed to get F2 generation seed. Progeny of these crosses is being evaluated and shall be followed up for developing intraspecific crosses. Hybrid vigour has also been worked out for 25 intra-specific hybrids resulting in enhanced yields due to heterosis.

Progenies (half-sib) trails have been laid at eight sites in the country (with one focal Centre at Udaipur where half-sib progeny of 160 accessions is being evaluated).

Algal biofuel Network Programme
Algae, as a research material for biodiesel has been identified as a priority area of research. Studies have been initiated to collect, identify and characterize algal strains which will have more oil/lipid content.

To have large amount of biomass, mass cultivation has been started using open pond system, (Raceway ponds), photo-bioreactor etc.

Besides, growth conditions of selected species are being optimised for high oil yield. Under this algal network programme 12 national laboratories/institutions/universities are involved from across the country.
Algae collection and repository (fresh, marine and brackish water)
Fresh water Collection at Institute of Bioresource and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, Manipur
A total of 1,122cyanobacterial and 504green algae isolates have been purified, morphologically characterised and preserved at Fresh water Repository set up at IBSD Imphal, capital of this state in northeast India.
These isolates belong to 32 genera collected from different ecological habitats of North East Region of India and some other locations across the country.
Marine water collection –NFMC Trichy
The National Facility for Marine Cyanobacteria (NFMC) at Bharathidasan University, Trichy(southern Indian state of Kerala) has been upgraded to 500 marine cyanobacterial strains and 30 marine green algae collected from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Gujarat and Andaman island.
Five potential microalgae identified from the germplasm for high lipid content. Some of the high lipid yielding strains have been identified among these isolates.
Brackish water collection –Institute of Material and Minerals Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneswar
A total of 46 isolates including cyanobacteria, green algae and diatoms have been collected from different locations and have been characterised morphologically and chemically.
Identification and characterisation
All the strains in the repository have been identified based on morphological means. Molecular characterisation and the standardisation of protocol for isolation of genomic DNA from cyanobacterial isolates by using CTAB and Xanthogenate method have been done.
More than 150 strains of marine cyanobacteria belonging to various morphological groups have been screened for their lipid productivity.
Fatty acid profile most of the strains have been studied which possessed long chain fatty acids maximally a prerequisite for biodiesel. Among the strains analysed for total lipids highest lipids content was recorded in a few species ranged from 30-52 per cent dry weight basis.
Correlation of relative total lipid content and percentage of Nile red fluorescence in selected algal strains has been developed.
Algae biomass cultivation
About 60 promising strains have been shortlisted to take further for biomass cultivation in open pond /closed PBD.
Optimisation of downstream processing methodologies such as harvesting, lipid extraction, fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) production and media recycling has been carried out with consideration of process time, quality and economics. Outdoor mass cultivation with seawater based media has been done for some efficient strains.
A facility of eight Raceway Ponds, each with 30,000 ltr capacity (42 x 2.73 x 0.35m) in a closed circular loop set up at IMMT Bhubneswar, Cultivation have been carried out in batch mode of the initial optimisation studies.
Development of bench-scale prototype reactor – extraction system for integrated CO2 sequestration, Aquatic Microbial Oxygenic Photoautotrophs (AMOPs) cultivation and conversion to value added products has been initiated at NEERI Nagpur along with CFTRI Mysore.
Algae production using industrial effluents
Different industrial effluents like pharmaceutical wastewater, dairy wastewater, winery wastewater and sewage have been studied for lipid productivity by green micro algae.