Eco-Research

Discipline of Marine Biotechnology and Ecology

This division consists of the following four major groups and a field station at Mandapam, Tamilnadu.

The mandate of respective groups is as follows.

Molecular biology and Biotechnology

This group is actively pursuing research in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology to understand and utilize the potentials of coastal and marine bioresources. The studies focus mainly on understanding the molecular mechanisms of stress tolerance, functional genomics, proteomics, molecular systematics, biodiversity and bioremediation. The current research activities are centered on (i) Isolation, cloning and characterization of salt tolerant genes from the halophyte, Salicornia brachiata, (ii) Genetic engineering of crop/cash plants for enhanced abiotic tolerance, (iii) Biochemical and molecular systematics of seaweeds and microbes, (iv) Genomics and Metagenomics of extremophiles and marine microbes, (v) Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and its biotechnological applications, (vi) Molecular mechanism of plant-microbe interactions, (vii) Biofilm formation and bacterial quorum sensing, (viii) Metabolic engineering for enhanced photosynthesis and CO2 sequestration, (ix) Biopigments/biomaterials from cyanobacteria/microalgae as a source of pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical substances.

Natural Products Chemistry

The major activity of this group is value addition of seaweeds and seaweed polysaccharides. Several environmental-friendly technologies have been developed and patented (US and PCT) for preparation of agarose (US 2005/0267296 A1), semi refined- and refined-carrageenans from different red seaweed species. Recently, US patent has been granted (USP 6,893,479) for an integrated process to simultaneously obtain liquid fertilizer and -carrageenan from fresh Eucheuma seaweed. Yet another area of focus with vast potential is development of biodegradable films (US 7067568) and soft/hard capsule shells based on seaweed polysaccharides. Development of methods for physical and chemical modifications of agar and carrageenan is another area wherein work has been done to prepare polysaccharide based materials having new functions. As part of an ongoing Ministry of Earth Sciences-funded National Programme on "Drugs from the sea", investigations are under way to identify bioactive seaweeds. Work is also being carried out on the bioactive compounds from terrestrial plants under CSIR Network project, having identified an anti-tuberculosis principle from a plant growing in the coastal area for which a US patent has been granted (US 7,442,393).

Seaweed Biology and Cultivation

The mission of the group pursuing phycological research at CSMCRI and its field station at Mandapam is to "Generate the knowledge and innovations that would help make seaweed cultivation a new form of agriculture that is remunerative, eco-friendly, sustainable and expansive in scope". This group takes pride for being the first in the country to pioneer the Kappaphycus alvarezii cultivation technology heralding the era of commercial farming of the seaweeds in India. There are more than 800 self help groups (SHGs) in Tamilnadu which have adopted Kappaphycus cultivation as means of their livelihood earning. The research findings emanated from this group brought about the development of a new seaweed industry generating additional employment opportunities and revenue to the country. As an integral part of societal mission, training programmes in seaweed cultivation were organized to enhance the awareness and to promote the seaweed cultivation in the country. This group liaises with industry and other stake holders to implement the new developments from the seaweed research. The other maritime states are also being explored for expanding the cultivation activity while developing farming methods for other useful seaweeds having either edible or biofuel applications. The offshore cultivation of seaweeds is also being initiated to gainfully leverage the Indian seas whose promising potential is yet to be tapped. This group also harnesses its expertise in seaweed biology to unravel the seaweed biodiversity of Indian coast and its bioprospection.

Marine Environment

As recognized environmental auditor by Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of Gujarat, the group undertakes consultancy projects on monitoring of environmental quality of coastal region, environment impact assessment studies, environmental audit, and identification and performance evaluation of wastewater outfalls for various industries and government departments. The group has a multidisciplinary team of scientists consisting of environmental engineer, chemical engineer, chemists, microbiologists, botanists, biotechnologists, marine biologists, oceanographer, molecular biologists etc. to deal with wide range of environmental problems, effectively. This group intensified its R&D activities on environmental microbiology including studies on microbial interaction with ecologically important biota, biodiversity of extremophiles and their application in bioremediation with an ultimate objective to improve the quality of environment.

Technologies Developed

  • Technology for cultivation of Kappaphycus and Gracilaria edulis on large scale 
  • A cost-effective process for preparation of low sodium salt of botanic origin 
  • Processes for the preparation of refined and semi-refined carrageenan (SRC) from Hypnea and Kappaphycus 
  • An integrated for the preparation of  a liquid fertilizer   and a k-carrageenan from Kappaphycus alvarezii
  • A process for the preparation of agarose from Gracilaria dura
  • Process for preparation of biodegradable films based on seaweed polysaccharides.
  • A process for preparation of carrageenan-based hard and soft capsules as an alternative to animal based gelatin.

Products/Technologies commercialized

  • The knowhow for cultivation of seaweeds and preparation of carrageenan therefrom has been licensed to M/s. Pepsico India Holdings Pvt. Ltd, Gurgaon.
  • Cultivation of Gracilaria edulis and agar therefrom has been licensed to M/s. Community Enterprise Forum International (CEFI), New Delhi.
  • The knowhow for integrated process for the production of carrageenan and liquid fertilizer from fresh seaweeds  has been transferred to M/s. Pepsico India Holdings Pvt. Ltd, Gurgaon
  • Low sodium salt of vegetable origin has been transferred to M/s. NMS Pharma, Bhavnagar.
  • The knowhow for Kappaphycus cultivation was licensed to M/s. Navedar Navgav Boreshwar Sarvoday Machhimar Sahakari Society Limited, Alibag, Maharashtra, and  M/s. Indian Seaweed Company Limited, Vijayawada, AP.

Monograph on:

Recent Advances on Applied Aspects of Indian Marine Algae

With Reference to Global Scenario

The Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar, has published 2 volumes of the Monograph entitled "Recent advances on applied aspects of Indian Marine Algae with reference to Global Scenario". The scanned copy of the cover page and table of contents for these volumes are given below. These volumes are printed on glossy art paper and majority of the figures are in 4 colours. The price for both the volumes are Rs. 2,300=00 or Rs. 1,500=00 for any one of the volume (Indian Rupee). Persons from other countries have to pay 500 US $ for both the volume or 350 US $ for any one of the volume. In addition to this the buyer also has to pay Rs. 150=00 in Indian currency or US $ 10 for Sea Mail/ Surface Mail or US $ 20 by Air Mail towards the charges of packing and forwarding. The charges for packing and forwarding will remain same for purchase of single volume. The volumes will be send by registered post parcel. Ten percent reduction in selling price will be given to Indian students and other students of developing and underdeveloped countries. However, in such case the student has to produce certificate from the Director of the Institute or Head of the Department of residential University or Principal of the affiliated College. The cost of the monograph and postage charges have to be paid in advance by crossed Demand Draft in favour of "The DIRECTOR, Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute", payable at the State Bank of India, Diwanpara Branch, Bhavnagar, (Gujarat State) INDIA.

The Demand Draft may be send to Dr. Kannan Srinivasan, Head BDIM, Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar – 364 002, Gujarat (INDIA). Dr. Kannan Srinivasan (email address skannan[at]csmcri.res.in ) may also be contacted if any one needs proforma invoice to arrange the payment