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Scientists at BHU developing better strains of cyanobacteria using photoengineering and genetic engineering techniques

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Scientists at BHU developing better strains of cyanobacteria using photo engineering and genetic engineering techniques


·         Patent filed by BHU for genetically engineered straining of Cyanobacteria


Varanasi : Cyanobacteria (old name Blue-green algae due to their typical colour) are commonly known as “kai” in India. These photosynthetic organisms are prokaryotic Gram-negative bacteria that have played an important role in shaping present-day aerobic life by producing oxygen into the atmosphere approximately 3 billion years ago. Oxygen produced by these organisms on primitive Earth led to the formation of the ozone layer which protects life on the Earth by providing protection against lethal ultraviolet-C radiation. Kai (cyanobacteria) can grow luxuriantly in any place such as fresh and marine water, soil, the bark of trees, concrete walls, statues/rocks, hot springs, within plants and animals, cold and temperate places, or any other extreme environments.

Cyanobacteria are major carbon dioxide and dinitrogen fixers and have emerged as potential candidates for sustainable production of 3G and 4G biofuels, valuable chemicals and pharmaceuticals (toxins, anticancerous compounds and natural sunscreens). Cyanobacteria have also shown their potential for sequestration of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to decrease the impact of global climate change and pilot plants are being set up for this purpose in different countries.
Scientists working at the Department of Botany, Institute of Science at Banaras Hindu University are using photoengineering and genetic engineering techniques to mold cyanobacteria in such a way that have better phenotypes for biofuel and valuable compound production industry.

The group led by Dr. Shailendra pratap Singh has increased lipid content and cell length (which are useful phenotypes for industry) of the industrially important cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 by growing the organism in blue and green lights. Dr. Singh told us that cyanobacterium showed slow growth in two light conditions but decreased biomass production was offset by the increased amount of lipid content and elongated cells. Group has also genetically engineered the same organism to develop new strains that produce the almost doubled amount of lipids, high carbohydrates and low proteins and have better sedimentation/collection efficiency.

The patent has been filed by Banaras Hindu University for genetically engineered strains while findings of photoengineering technique were published recently in the Elsevier journal Environmental and Experimental Botany. The study was funded by the DST-SERB early career research award, BSR start-up grant, UGC and Institute of eminence incentive grant,

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