They are found to be highly resistant to extreme pH and salinity

Scientists have stumbled upon two novel species of bacteria that have immense biotechnological value in the Chilika Lake. Authorities are elated over the prospects of commercialisation of the bacteria.

“We have identified two novel species of bacteria, namely Streptomyces chilikensis and Streptomyces barkulensis, from the Chilika lagoon. In laboratory studies, these new species are found to be highly resistant to extreme pH and salinity and produce many biotechnologically important enzymes such as chitinase, protease, cellulase, and lipase,” said Ajit Pattnaik, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA).

“These useful properties make the bacteria good for further evaluation and trial on the industrial scale. If successful, these bacteria or their bio-products could lead to alternative sources of livelihood to the fisherman community. This will eventually reduce the fishing pressure on the lagoon, leading to sustainable management of the lagoon biodiversity,” Mr. Pattnaik hoped.

Collaborative research

The discovery is a result of a collaborative research taken up by the CDA and the School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, to explore the microbes.

According to the CDA, the collaborative research, for the first time, has applied cutting-edge molecular techniques such as next-generation pyrosequencing and metagenomics to elucidate the bacterial communities of the largest brackish water lagoon of Asia.

“Systemic samplings have been conducted from different sectors of the lagoon. And in the laboratories, bacteria have been isolated and characterised through an array of biochemical and molecular methods to identify and document the novel species,” it said.

CDA Chief Executive said the gene sequences of the novel bacteria were catalogued in GenBank maintained by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the U.S.

Official validation

“Novel species of bacteria are officially validated through publication in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (IJSEM), which is a benchmark journal published by the Society for General Microbiology (SGM) in the United Kingdom.”

“It is expected that several patents will be created through such discovery programmes, which will be the basis for establishment of new bio-enterprises for better livelihood,” he said.

According to the CDA, Chilika, being the biodiversity hotspot, is a treasure trove of novel bacterial species, which offer an unexplored reservoir of many genes and bio-products. These bio-products could be useful in biotechnology industries as starting raw materials for several processes.

Though Chilika is considered as the well-studied wetland with very good documentation of its biodiversity that dates back to 1900, the exploration of microbes of Chilika has never been done. This assumes high importance as the role of the microbes in the bio-geochemical cycle of the lake needs to be clearly understood for determining the management strategy of the lake.