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Plants produce cellulose, an abundant biopolymer in the world, which is used for paper and pulp production. Similarly, certain bacteria too can produce cellulose. Bacterial cellulose have better physicochemical properties such as crystallinity, tensile strength, moldability and larger surface area, since they are devoid of lignin and hemicelluloses material. These characteristics make them suitable for biotechnological and biomedical applications like bone and tissue scaffold material, wound dressing material and even as a drug delivery agent.
Conventionally, a bacterium named Komagataeibacterxylinus is used for producing bacterial cellulose. Its genome was completely sequenced in 2018 which aimed at understanding the cellulose production process. The bacterium and its strains produce good quality bacterial cellulose. However, the yield is low and the cost of production is high, making it unfavourable for large scale production.
The team of scientists from NCL screened different rotten fruits such as dragon fruit, mango, orange, lime, banana and fig for alternative cellulose producing bacteria and cultured them under laboratory conditions. They isolated a bacterium called K. rhaeticusPG2 from rotten pomegranate which showed promising results.
The team assessed the feasibility for large scale production from the isolated strain using different carbon sources like fructose, lactose, sorbitol, glycerol, etc. in the standard media. They reported that the highest production was possible when glycerol was used as a carbon source.
"It normally costs ₹ 60 to produce approximately 9 grams of bacterial cellulose using standard media. However, the strain we have found can give the same output using waste glycerol in the media as carbon source for less than ₹ 15," said Syed G. Dastager, leader of the research team, while speaking to India Science Wire.The research team also included Meghana N.Thorat. The results of the study have been published in journal RSC Advances. The laboratory has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Singhghad Dental College, Pune for its medical application, especially in endodontics.
December 3, 2018 (N. Delhi)
Antibiotic resistance is a major problem in the health sector globally. Many times bacteria form biofilms to resist the action of antibiotics. They do so by adhering together to form a matrix with the help of polymer which they produce. Such microbial films are responsible for failure of devices such as catheters and ventilators.
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) have developed a new eco-friendly nanocomposite that promises to help fight the problem of such antibiotic resistance more effectively. The newly synthesized nanocomposite is capable of penetrating these biofilms and kill microbes.
The new compound has been developed by combining silver particles with ĸ-Carrageenan, a polymer derived from red sea weed. The polymer is conventionally used in food products as a gelling, thickening and emulsifying agent.
Silver nanoparticles are already known to have the ability to kill microbes but they are instable and have a short shelf life. Researchers used ĸ-Carrageenan to increase stability and shelf life of silver nanoparticles. They made a solution of ĸ-Carrageenan with silver nitrate and irradiated it in a microwave synthesizer. The nanocomposite thus obtained was found to be very stable and having a long shelf life, while being effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
"Capping of silver nanocomposites with ĸ-carrageenan imparts it stability and shelf life up to six 6 months, which is one of the essential features of therapeutic formulations. The nanocomposite shows excellent antimicrobial activity against S.aureus and P.aeruginosa bacterial biofilms," researchers said. As carrageenan has been widely studied for its antifungal, anti-viral, anti-cancerous and immunomodulatory properties, the nanocomposite based on it can have huge potential in biomedical applications.
The new nanocomposite also has potential applications in food packaging industry as microbial films spoil food products. "We are currently devising cost-effective anti-bacterial wound dressing materials and food packaging materials using the new nanocomposite. We plan to study its efficacy as potent anti-fungal and anti-viral agents too," said Dr.Krishna Mohan Poluri, a member of the research team, while speaking to India Science Wire.
The research results have been published in journal Carbohydrate Polymers. Besides Dr. Krishna Mohan Poluri, the team included Apoorva Goel, Mukesh Kumar Meher, Payal Gupta, Khushboo Gulati and Vikas Pruthi.
November 27, 2018(N. Delhi)
The centre will impart advanced competences and analytical skills required for life- sciences research to Indian students and researchers.
Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), a national laboratory under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has joined hands with German science and technology firm Merck to establish a high-end skill development centre for life-science technologies such as gene editing and single-molecular biomarker detection.
The centre, being set up in Chandigarh, will impart advanced competences and analytical skills required for life- sciences research to Indian students and researchers to make them industry-ready, said an official release on Tuesday.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by representatives of CSIR-IMTECH and Merck at the CSIR headquarters here.
This will be a first-of-its-kind, academia-industry-led skill development centre to be established to augment the government initiative for skilling India in the area of life-science, it said. The centre will set up a next-generation lab for real-time analysis and organise workshop for advanced technologies.
November 22, 2018 (N. Delhi)
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Atal Innovation Mission, India and Fund "Talent and Success", Russia for promotion of science & technology, strong foundation to the collaborative work through exchange of students, teachers, researchers and scientists between both countries. The MoU was signed on October 5, 2018.
Benefits:The MoU will facilitate promotion of science & technology, strong foundation to the collaborative work through exchange of students, teachers, researchers and scientists between India and Russia.
The MOU will provide a mechanism in taking part in establishing relationships with-schools, universities, cultural institutions, science & technology and specialized education institutions, high-tech companies, startups and innovation centers in both countries. The activities are expected to promote creation of new scientific knowledge, generation of intellectual property, innovations and products development in both countries.
Prime Minister during his visit to Russia during 23-24th December, 2015 visited Sirius Educational Centre in Sochi wherein, it was proposed to invite the Russian students to India to work with Indian students. As a prelude to the recent visit of President of Russian Federation, Mr. Viadimir Putin in the first week of October 2018, ten Russian students visited India to work with ten Indian students from five Atal Tinkering Lab schools in an Innovation Boot Camp at IIT, Delhi during October 1-4, 2018. The students worked on innovative concepts for exploring development of new prototypes in five sectors; healthcare, space technology, clean technology, agri-technology and smart mobility. The prototypes developed were exhibited by the young student innovators before Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and President of Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin and on 5th October, 2018.
Through this MoU, it is proposed to continue the collaborative work between Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), India and Fund "Talent and Success", Russia.
November 22, 2018 (N. Delhi)
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of an Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation between India and Uzbekistan. The Agreement was signed on 1st October 2018 at New Delhi in the presence of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and President of Uzbekistan Mr. Shavkat Mirayoyev, by the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan on the Indian side and Minister of Innovative Development, Mr. Ibrohim Abdurakhmanov on the Uzbek side.
Signing of the Agreement will open a new chapter in bilateral relations, as both sides will now leverage complementary strengths spurred by a significant convergence of mutual interests in science and technology. The objective of the Agreement is to promote cooperation in the fields of science, technology and Innovation between the two countries. The stake-holders will include researchers from scientific organizations, academia, R&D laboratories and industries from India and Uzbekistan. Agriculture and Food Science and Technology; Engineering Sciences; Information and Communication Technology, Applied Mathematics and Data Science and Technology; Health and Medical Technology; Materials Sciences; Life Sciences & Biotechnology; Physics and Astrophysics and Energy, water, climate and natural resources were identified as potential areas for immediate collaboration.
November 22, 2018 (N. Delhi)
United Nation Environment has awarded Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India with Asia Environment Enforcement Awards, 2018 for excellent work done by the Bureau in combating transboundary environmental crime.
Congratulating the Bureau Union Environment Minister said that the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award, recognizes the excellent work done by Government officials and teams from the bureau who are diligently involved in combating trans boundary environmental crime.
The Asia Environment Enforcement Awards publicly recognize and celebrate excellence in enforcement by government officials and institutions/teams combating transboundary environmental crime in Asia. The awards are given to outstanding individuals and/or government organizations/teams that demonstrate excellence and leadership in enforcement of national laws to combat transboundary environmental crime in one of the following eligibility criteria areas: collaboration; impact; innovation; integrity and gender leadership.
WCCB has been conferred this award in Innovation category. WCCB has adopted innovative enforcement techniques that have dramatically increased enforcement of transboundary environmental crimes in India. Notably it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to get real time data in order to help analyze trends in crime and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crimes across India.
This system has been successfully used to analyse trends, helping put in preventive measures as well as for successfully carrying out operations such as Operation SAVE KURMA, THUNDERBIRD, WILDNET, LESKNOW, BIRBIL, THUNDERSTORM, LESKNOW-II along with other enforcement agencies resulting in the arrest of 350 wildlife criminals and huge seizures of Tiger/Leopard Skin/bones and other trophies, Rhino Horn, Elephant Ivory, turtles/tortoises, Mongoose raw hairs as well as Mangoose hair bruses, protected birds, Marine products, live Pangolin as well as its scales, deer antlers etc. across all the states. In order to involve the public in the fight against wildlife crime, WCCB has also developed a scheme to enroll willing persons as WCCB Volunteers.
The award was decided upon by a selection panel set up by the UN Environment and this is the second time in a row the awards are being given by UN Environment to India.
November 21, 2018 (Hyderabad)
A smart phone-based sensors are being developed by the researchers at IIT-H to detect adulteration in milk. As a first step, they have developed a detector system to measure the acidity in milk through an indicator paper that changes colour according to the acidity in the milk. They have also developed algorithms that can be incorporated into a mobile phone to accurately detect the colour change.
Undertaken by a team led by Shiv Govind Singh, professor in Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT-H, comprising associate professors Soumya Jana and Siva Rama Krishna Vanjari, the research has been published in the November issue of the journal Food Analytical Methods.
Speaking of the importance of the research, Prof. Shiv Govind Singh said: "While techniques such as chromatography and spectroscopy can be used to detect adulteration, they generally require expensive set-up and are not amenable to miniaturisation into low-cost easy-to-use devices. Given this, they do not appeal to the vast majority of milk consumers in the developing world. We need to develop simple devices that the consumer can use to detect milk contamination. It should be possible to make milk adulteration detection fail-safe by monitoring all of these parameters at the same time, without the need for expensive equipment."
As a first step, the research team has developed a sensor chip-based method for measuring pH, an indicator of the acidity. They have used a process called 'electrospinning' to produce paper-like material made of nano-sized fibres of nylon, loaded with a combination of three dyes. The paper is "halochromic", that changes colour in response to changes in the acidity.
The team has developed a prototype smart phone-based algorithm in which the colours of the sensor strips after dipping in milk are captured using the camera of the phone, and the data is transformed into pH (acidity) ranges.
They have used three machine-learning algorithms and have compared their detection efficiencies in classifying the colour of the indicator strips.
On testing with milk spiked with various combinations of contaminants, they found near-perfect classification with accuracy of 99.71%.
October 29, 2018 (Mysuru)
Carbonated fruit drinks, developed by scientists from the CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysuru, were on display for the first time in public, at the institute's Open Day which began here on Monday.
The institute took around 1.5 years to come out with this product made from technology that adheres to the fruit juice/pulp content as per FSSAI regulations. Fruit pulp/juice extracted from mature ripe fruits was used for the production of the carbonated beverages. An indigenous technology of CFTRI under the Make in India initiative, the product, according to the CFTRI, was acceptable for people of all ages.
The drink comes in a 300 ml bottle and has a shelf life of three months (under room temperature). It can be produced 300 days in a year. Locally available fruits can be used to produce the drink using the technology and can give best returns to the farmers. It has the potential of opening a new market for them.
Visitors tasted the drink served at the Carbonated Fruit Beverage Plant, Mission Directorate, FTT, and gave a thumbs-up to the technology.
"The beverage can be produced from a variety of fruits with different colours and flavours. It has been made in eight flavours ? grape, lime, mango, guava, orange, pomegranate, apple and jamun," said P. Vijayanand, Chief Scientist, Fruits and Vegetable Technology Division, CFTRI, Mysuru. He said that the product is expected to hit the market in December with an entrepreneur from Mysuru having availed a licence from the institute for commercialising the technology.
The fizz in the drink attracts the youth besides driving the consumption of fruit juices among all age groups and improving nutritional quality owing to the presence of fruit pulp, he added.
October 26, 2018 (N. Delhi)
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has invited research proposal for the 'Science and Technology of Yoga and Meditation' (SATYAM) programme. SATYAM was conceptualized by DST and launched under its Cognitive Science Research Initiative (CSRI). Research proposal is invited for the year 2018-19 from scientists/academicians having prior research experience in scientific aspects of 'Yoga & Meditation'.
Scientists/academicians with research background in 'Yoga and Meditation' and having regular position are invited to participate in this initiative.
Individuals who practice and are actively involved in yoga and meditation practices can also apply in collaboration with academic and research institutes of repute.
The project is tenable for a maximum period of three years.
Project proposal in prescribed format should be submitted at online portal of DST i.e. e-PMS (onlinedst.gov.in). Principal Investigators have to register themselves at e-PMS and then proposal can be uploaded in the given format which is available on e-PMS under KIRAN Division and at DST website. Two hardcopies of submitted research proposal should also be sent to Dr Vandana Singh, Scientist-E, Department of Science and Technology, Technology Bhawan, New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi-110016, by Speed Post. The envelope should be superscribed with "SATYAM".
Last date to submit proposal is November 30, 2018. Project proposal format is available on the DST website.