Call for more research in algal biotechnology

A three-day national symposium on ‘recent trends in algal biotechnology' organised by the Mar Athanasios College For Advanced Studies Thiruvalla (Macfast) came to a close on Thursday. Fr. Abraham Mulamoottil, Principal, presided the valedictory function.

Maya Subramoni, scientist and head of the Centre for Algal Biotechnology at Macfast, said the symposium stressed the need for more research in the new branches of traditional medicine such as Ethanopharmacology, Reverse pharmacology, System biology and Metabolomics to evaluate and fully utilise the therapeutic efficacy of traditional drugs.

Medicinal properties of seaweeds like as anti-HIV effects, anti-tumour activity, potential contraceptive effects were reported at the symposium, stressing the importance of evaluating different varieties of seaweeds to identify the active components and synergetics in traditional medicine to make the formulation simple and cost effective, Dr. Subramoni said.

She said Chlorococcum, a fresh water alga, is a good source of the antioxidant â-carotene, which is found to inhibit tumour growth induced by Benzopyrene. More work was needed to identify the components responsible for anti-tumour effects. The various neutraceutical components in different algal sources should be identified and documented. In India, no agency had come forward with algal standard materials and hence this area of study should be initiated and strengthened, she added.

Dr. Subramoni said that algae play an important role in the dispersal, transformation and bio-accumulation of heavy metals and many organic xenobiotics such as Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins in marine environment. This area requires more attention to reduce the toxic effects of some of these pollutants.

She said improved technologies for farming of useful algal species like Arthrospira and Spirulina should be developed and propagated. It should be noted that some of the algae were potential sources of bio-fuel, she added.

Another outcome of the symposium was the standardisation of a methodology for continuous production of algal oil to be used as bio-fuel. A technology was developed to increase the growth rate of freshwater green algae Neochloris oleoabundans, utilised for bio-diesel production by mixotrophic growth, she said.

An Algae Museum was also opened at Macfast Bio-campus as part of the symposium on Thursday.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 9:43:19 PM |

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