Department of Biotechnology
Cochin University of Science and Technology
||News & Views
The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory was created in the Department of Biotechnology in 1992 prior to the construction of the current building. The first student in this laboratory studied the mutagenic effect of lasers in plant species in collaboration with the faculty in the Photonics department of this University. A full fledged plant tissue culture facility complete with Laminar air flow chamber, culture trolleys, orbital shaker, autoclave, tissue homogenisers and Millipore filter sterilization equipment was set up in 1994 utilizing funds received from ICAR, Govt. of India.
The major research thrust was to extend the techniques of plant tissue culture developed for higher plants, to economically important agar-agar and algin producing sea-weeds. Another area of research interest was the elucidation of salt tolerance mechanisms in a rice variety Pokkali, cultivated in the back water lakes in Alapuzha and Ernakulam districts. Funding for this effort was provided by the STEC, Kerala. During the period 1999 to 2005 however there were no faculty members in the Plant Biotechnology Laboratory as the only faculty member on roll was on leave of absence. Tissue culture studies were reinitiated in the Laboratory in 2006. The objective was to develop protocols for regeneration of plants in Jatropha curcas, seeds of which produce oils used in biodiesel production. In 2007, the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, funded a societal development project under which, in a period of three years, 500 women from Kudumbashree, the state poverty eradication mission, were trained in the art and craft of handpapermaking using locally available weeds and agriwaste. Currently the laboratory is working towards the isolation and characterization of microorganisms with lignin degrading ability. The objective is to employ these microbes for pre-treatment of agriwaste for extraction of plant fibers for diverse applications such as pulp, paper and biofuel production..
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