Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bio-plastic producing bacteria on Osmania University campus

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Osmania University may have been in the news for
all the wrong reasons, but city researchers have found new types of
bacteria living on the university campus that could solve the major
environmental challenge thrown up by synthetic plastics. The discovery
gains significance as the world debates on the need for biosafety, at
conference of the UN Convention of Biodiversity scheduled to begin
here on October 1.

The two bacterial species named after Hyderabad and Osmania University
produce natural or bio-plastic, an alternative to synthetic or
conventional plastic. These bacteria are also capable of degrading the
bio-plastic they produce. They can be cultured on a largescale to meet
the ever-growing demand of the plastic industry on one hand, and
protect environment on the other through reduced used of synthetic
plastic material.

Researchers from the microbiology lab of the Botany Department, OU,
collected soil samples from the university campus and analysed them
for presence of any novel bacterial species. They found two novel
species of Streptomyces, which they named Streptomyces hyderabadensis
and Streptomyces osmaniansis.

Dr Shaik Mahmood, head of the department of botany, Nizam College, OU,
told this correspondent that both the bacterial species contain
bio-plastic up to 70 per cent of their body mass. Dr Mahmood led the
research team comprising TVK Reddy, Laskaris Paris, Y Harish Kumar
Reddy, EMH Wellington, M Mohammed Idris and Slawomir Ciesielski.

“Our results showed that both the bacterial species discovered from
Osmania University produce polyhydroxy alkanoides, a type of
bio-plastic, and store them in their bodies. When they are under
stress like non-availability of food, they convert it into food and
survive. We can tap this bio-plastic and promote it as alternative to
conventional plastic, which is harmful to environment,” Dr Mahmood said.

The plastic produced by S. hyderabadensis and S. osmaniansis is
biodegradable, environment-friendly and cost effective. Dr Mahmood
said the bacteria had been sent to American Type Culture Collection
and they are now available for the world scientists to do further

The team also discovered four more new bacterial species from the
university campus and is now analyzing them.

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