Research Team

Dr. Vrinda.S. alt
UGC-Dr. D. S. Kothari Postdoctoral Fellow
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Title of work: “Recombinant antimicrobial peptides and cell penetrating domains from Phylum Arthropoda and Mollusca as anticancer agents.”

Brief description of the work: Great advances in the field of cancer therapy; there is a significant importance to develop anticancer agents with new mode of action due to the resistance developed by cancer cells towards current anticancer drugs. Naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) exhibiting a broad spectrum of cytotoxic activity against cancer can emerge as a suitable broad spectrum drug. This has enhanced the significance of AMPs for their potential as clinical antibiotics against cancer. The cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) also prove to be promising solutions related to drug delivery of anticancer therapeutics. The development of a new class of anticancer drugs (AMPs) and CPPs from marine arthropods and molluscs is a promising venture. The isolation of naturally occurring AMPs and CPPs will currently exceed the manufacturing of conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Therefore, recombinant AMPs and CPPs will be an alternative for the development of economically viable ACPs (Anticancer peptides).

Dr. Salini K. alt
Senior Research Fellow (Extended), DBT Project
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Title of work :"Immortalization of lymphoid cell culture from Penaeus monodon by transduction with oncogenes, ectopic expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase using shrimp specific expression vectors and hybridization with established cell lines."

Brief Description of work: Development of continuous shrimp cell lines has been a challenging task, for a long period of over 25 years. The high regeneration capability of the crustacean cells (including shrimp) does not show neoplastic transformation and thus it prevents spontaneous immortalization. Shrimp cell line is an inevitable tool for isolation, characterization and to bring out effective prophylaxis. Neoplastic transformation can be achieved by transduction with oncogenes/TERT or creating hybrid cell line by fusion with an established cell line. Inactivation of pRb and p53 pathways in combination with activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism also has been suggested to be the options for immortalization of somatic cells.

Mrs. Ajitha V. Ajitha
UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of work :"Cytotoxic and genotoxic evaluation of effluents discharged from petrochemical industries of Cochin."

Brief Description of work: It is mandatory that all industries should subject their effluents to rigorous treatment processes to attain the required quantity for discharging to surface waters. Apart from BOD and COD, there are innumerable chemical compounds in the effluents which may cause sub-lethal toxicity to the aquatic fauna and flora over a period of time. the long term effects of these chemicals may result in the reduction of biodiversity, lower fecundity and at times extinction of the species even. these long term effects go on unnoticed for years and when it gets realized it will be too late to recoverthe aquatic system. Therefore, toxological studies have been introduced using live animal models, especially fishes, to test the cyto and genotoxicity of the effluents. this methodology has its own drawbacks in several ways. It includes, large number of fisheshas to be sacrificed for a single sample, which is unethical. the homeostatic mechanism of the animal resists the sub-lethal toxicity and may not be detectable in assays. The assays are time consuming, laborious and prone to errors. Considering these drawbacks in vivo model (fishes) have been replaced with in vitro models such as fish cell lines, which have brought in dramatic changes in the assays. My study aims to use fish cell lines to investigate cyto and geno toxicity of petrochemical industrial effluents discharged to surface waters of Cochin.

Mrs. Ammu Thomas
Senior Research Fellow (CUSAT-MoES)
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Title of work :“ Development of photosynthetic sulphur bacteria based bioremediation technology for aquaculture system for H2S removal.”

Brief Description of work: H2S is produced naturally in aquaculture system due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter and by the action of sulphate reducing bacteria .In sediments, sulphate and H2S are constantly recycled between oxidation and reduction step, due to microbial action. Oxidation of H2S is very important in ponds which otherwise leads to blackening of sediments which will diffuse into overlying water column, triggering deleterious reaction. Recommended safe H2S concentration in shrimp culture is less than 0.02mg/L Exposure to H2S is extremely toxic to aquatic fauna, affecting their survival and productivity. H2S readily diffuse across membranes and inhibits respiratory enzymes and blood pigments.Biotechnological sulphide removal system is based on the oxidation of sulphide to sulphur. Photosynthetic purple and green sulphur bacteria utilize reduced sulphur compounds, such as sulphide, as electron donors. The present study envisage for the development of mass production technology of pure culture isolates of Photosynthetic purple and green sulphur bacteria and also development of an appropriate delivery system of sulphur bacteria in shrimp aqua culture system.

Mr. Anoop B. S. alt
UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of work : "Cellular and molecular approaches for the development of immortal cell lines from Penaeus monodon.

Brief Description of work: Development of continuous shrimp cell lines has been a challenging task, for a long period of over 25 years. The high regeneration capability of the crustacean cells (including shrimp) does not show neoplastic transformation and thus it prevents spontaneous immortalization. Shrimp cell line is an inevitable tool for isolation, characterization and to bring out effective prophylaxis. Neoplastic transformation can be achieved by transduction with oncogenes/TERT or creating hybrid cell line by fusion with an established cell line. Inactivation of pRb and p53 pathways in combination with activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism also has been suggested to be the options for immortalization of somatic cells.

Mr. Boobal R.

alt

UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of Work: "Dynamics of microbial population in the nitrifying bioreactor connected to the recirculating aquaculture system"

Brief Description of Work: The study is to identify the presence of nitrifying species in the nitrifying bioreactor on comparison with the original consortia. Analysis of nitrification potential suggesting the capability of the consortia to form a stable biofilm after connected to a recirculation aquaculture system as a potential source of biological water treatment method. Different Molecular techniques will be applied to phylogenetically characterize cultured isolates and 16s genes obtained through cloning from community DNA in turn determining the diversity of the nitrifying bacterial consortia in the packed bed bioreactor under RAS system. Functional gene quantification is to indicate the versatile groups of the nitrifying bacterial consortia in enhancing the microbial bionomics in the recirculation aquaculture system through out the system operation.

Mrs. Deepa G.
UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of work : "Development of polymer based nanoparticle of marine derived anticancer drugs for anticancer drugs for targeted delivery and reduction of toxicity."

Brief Description of work: Dolastatin 10 and auristatins proved to be the most potent cytotoxic agents in preclinical studies, its Phase I and II clinical trials were unsuccessful due to lack of efficacy and existence of side effects. Conjugation of monomethyl auristatinE with an antibody that targets CD30 showed improved efficacy in Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells and approved by FDA/EMEA. The aim of our study is developing peptide conjugated polymer based nanoparticle formulation of marine anticancer drug, Dolastatin 10 and its synthetic analogue, Monomethylauristatin E (MMAE) for the treatment of breast cancer and soft tissue sarcomas.

Mrs. Deepa G. D.
Senior Research Fellow (CUSAT)
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Title of work: “Cyanobacterial Probiotics MCCB 114 And 115- Their Purification, Identification, Heterotrophic Association and Mass Production.”

Brief Description of work: Many cyanobacterial species have been identified as growth promoters for aquaculture industry. In a study undertaken by Preeta et al (2007), two Synechocystis species were identified as putative probiotics in Penaeus monodon larval rearing systems. They were found to control vibrios through antagonism and enhance the generic diversity of the intestinal flora, regulating its composition favorable to shrimp larvae. Detailed study of both these species were required before field level application could be attempted. This research project aimed at the purification of the cyanobacterial strains from the closely associated microflora and identifying them upto species level using molecular tools. Study of the associated microflora using biochemical and molecular analysis forms another objective. Proximate composition of the two strains to elucidate its application as aquaculture feed is attempted. Selection of a suitable culture media and its optimization by response surface methodology (RSM) and mass production in photobioreactors are also taken up.

Mr. Devassy Christo Chiramel alt
UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of work : "Metagenomic approach for identification, cloning and expression of novel cellulase genes from forest top soil."

Brief Description of work: Cellulosic biofuels are the most promising alternative evolved from the intensive research to obtain sustainable fuel for the transportation sector. The failure to figure out an industrially viable cellulase enzyme by the scientific community has made growth of this technology stagnate in its infancy. The revolutionary advancements in metagenomics have earned confidence in popping out the highly efficient novel cellulase from the myriad of genes in the environment, which otherwise was not attainable using traditional microbiological screening techniques. Pristine tropical forests of Western Ghats are an ideal site for the present, because of their extreme diversity and species richness.

Ms. Dhaneesha M.Orcid IDv2
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KSCSTE-Senior Research Fellow
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Title of Work:"Bioprospecting for antitumor compounds from Marine actinomycetes"

Brief Description of work: The biological diversity of the marine environment offers enormous scope for the discovery of novel natural products, several of which are potential targets for biomedical development. Emerging evidence suggest that marine natural products, especially the secondary metabolites from marine organisms, are far more likely to yield anticancer drugs than terrestrial sources. Marine actinomycetes have attracted great attention since they have developed unique metabolic and physiological capabilities that not only ensure survival in extreme habitats, but also offer the potential to produce compounds with antitumor and other interesting pharmacological activities. In addition to the production of antibiotics, actinomycetes produces clinically useful antitumor drugs such as anthracyclines (aclarubicin, daunomycin and doxorubicin), peptides (bleomycin and actinomycin D), aureolic acids (mithramycin), enediynes (neocarzinostatin), antimetabolites (pentostatin), carzinophilin, mitomycins etc. However, the search for novel drugs is still a priority goal for cancer therapy, due to the rapid development of resistance to multiple chemotherapeutic drugs. The present work aims at studying the antitumor potential of secondary metabolites from marine actinomycetes followed by purification, characterization of the bioactive lead compound and mode of antitumor activity of the lead compound will also be addressed.

Mrs. Indira K. Indira K
UGC-CSIR Research Fellow
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Title of work : "Structure and Biosynthesis of hydrocarbon of biofuel significance in marine algae."

Brief Description of work: The World’s supply of petroleum hydrocarbons, which serves as feedstock for the fuel and chemical industries is rapidly diminishing. This unavoidable reality, necessitates the development of renewable energy resources. Microalgae based biodiesel research been intensively researched but hydrocarbons of biofuel significance have been under represented in literature. The present research focuses on the structural characterization and biosynthetic pathway elucidation of hydrocarbons of biofuel significance in marine diatoms, with a long term objective of understanding hydrocarbon biosynthesis in the diatoms for further genetic engineering of potent genes in lipids rich in microalgae for the direct production of hydrocarbon.

Ms. Jisha Kumaran alt
UGC-BSR Fellow
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Title of work : "Mass production of marine microalgae as live feed in aquaculture systems."

Brief Description of work: Aquaculture is a fast growing sector; the concurrent trends of increasing seafood consumption and decreasing natural harvest dictate that a large portion of sea food must come from aquaculture in the 21st century. Microalgae play a crucial nutritional role for marine animals in open ocean and consequently in marine aquaculture, increase in aquaculture and the move towards more intensive aquaculture means an ever increasing demand for microalgae. The present high cost and variable quality of algae being produced significantly affect the profitability of many aquaculture operations; the difficulty of producing economically large quantities of micro algal feeds is currently one of the major impediments to the further development of the aquaculture industry. Development of a system capable of low cost, continuous production of marine micro algae while maintaining the desired product quality, is particularly important to meet the demand of biosecurity which has increasingly important with the intensification of aquaculture production systems to prevent the introduction and spread of pathogens and diseases.

Ms. Krishna Priya R. S. Krishnapriya
KSCSTE Fellow
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Title of work : "A study on the Ontogeny of fish immune system."

Brief Description of work: The Asian seabass Lates calcarifer distributed in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Asia is an important marine food-fish species in Southeast Asia and Australia. This species has been cultured for more than 20 years in brackish-water ponds and in recent years in floating cages. The global annual production of Asian seabass was currently 400,000 metric tons according to FAO statistics. So far, little is known about the immune system of Lates calcarifer. The study focuses on the immune relevant genes and its expression profile at different developmental stages of the Lates calcarifer. This study may give more insights in the developmental stages of immune system in L. calcarifer which would be crucial for successful vaccination and other husbandry management practices in controlling infection.

Mrs. Lekshmi N. alt
Junior Research Fellow
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Title of work : "Bioprospecting of neuroprotective compounds from marine organisms as potential drug candidates for neurodegenerative disorders."

Brief Description of work: Marine organisms contain a plethora of metabolites of which many of them are unidentified. Currently, most of the natural product derived therapeutics is of terrestrial origin. Literature studies suggest that marine natural products are superior to terrestrial natural products and show higher incidence of significant bioactivity compared with terrestrial organisms. The WHO estimates that neurodegenerative disorders will surpass cancer as the second most common cause of death among elderly in 2040s. The present study involves the search for neuroprotective compounds which may protect and improve physiological brain functions by different mechanisms that include antioxidant activity, inhibition of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin 1β, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha etc. and inhibition of key enzymes like Acetyl cholinesterase, β secretase and Glycogen synthase kinase-3.

Mr. Linu BalanOrcid IDv2 alt
Research Scholar
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Title of Work: "Polyhydroxybutyrate from Marine bacteria and their potential applications in human and veterinary medicine"

Brief Description of Work: The proposed study involves isolation & screening of PHB producing bacteria from Marine environment, development & standardization of downstream process, characterization of PHB and their use in human and veterinary applications. The aim of the work is to develop a benchmark products using PHB suitable for biomedical applications. During the development of the product, the technology can be developed and transferred to the industry.Also, the product range can be diversified giving a great opportunity for future research.

Mr. MD Umar Md Umar
Junior Research Fellow, KSCSTE Project
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Title of work:"Bioactive peptides and depsipeptides with potential anticancer activity from marine sponges and tunicates of Indian Ocean."

Brief Description of work: The biological diversity of the marine environment offers enormous scope for the discovery of novel natural products. Marine environment represent an underexploited source for the discovery of novel metabolites. Marine organisms have developed unique adaptation strategies that enable them to survive. All these species have developed chemical means to defend against predation, overgrowth by competing species, or to subdue motile prey species for ingestion. Pharmaceutical industry is especially interested in the natural defence mechanism of marine organisms. Majority of these compounds has been isolated from the marine invertebrates particularly bryozoans, mollusks, sponges, cnidarians and tunicates. Many of the currently used anticancer agents are natural products or are derived from leads discovered from natural sources. The search for novel drugs is still a priority goal for cancer therapy, due to the rapid development of resistance to multiple chemotherapeutic drugs.

Ms. Merlin T. S. Merlin2
KSCSTE Fellow
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Title of work :"Ascidians of Indian Coast: Diversity, Biology, ex-situ and in vitro propogation."

Brief Description of work: The oceans are the source of a large group of structurally unique natural products that are mainly accumulated in invertebrates such as sponges, tunicates, bryozoans, and molluscs. Several of these compounds (especially the tunicate metabolite ET-743) show pronounced pharmacological activities and are interesting candidates for new drugs primarily in the area of cancer treatment. Many species elsewhere in the world have been proved to contain compounds with antiviral, antitumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-leukemic activity. Ascidians have a high breeding capacity and a faster growth rate facilitating their culture. Cultivation of ascidians has a great potential for the production of protein rich quality food. They are excellent materials for several experimental studies like tissue regeneration, immunology, budding, colony organization, embryology, bioaccumulation of elements like zinc, vanadium etc.

Ms. Ramya R. Nair
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UGC-CSIR Senior Research Fellow
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Title of work : "Diversity and abundance of key microbial functional groups involved in nitrogen biogeochemical cycling in zero water exchange shrimp culture system through metagenomic approach."

Brief Description of work: Zero water exchange shrimp culture system maintained with the application of bioaugmenter “DetrodigestTM”, has been developed and implemented by National Centre for Aquatic Animal Health, Cochin University of Science Technology, Kerala, India for high yield and disease free shrimps. “DetrodigestTM”, bioaugmenter, maintains the total ammonia nitrogen (TAN), the major toxicant in this zero water exchange system, at permissible levels contributing to high yield of healthy and disease free animals. The stability of TAN in this system confirms the presence of active nitrifying microbial community. As ammonia oxidation is considered to be the rate limiting step, the study focus on construction of sequence based metagenomic libraries from this bioaugmented zero water exchange shrimp culture systems at different culturing period, to identify the presence of important players responsible for ammonia oxidation, its diversity, abundance and relative contribution to nitrification.

Ms. Sanyo Sabu
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Research Scholar
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Title of work: "Marine microalgae with high neutral lipid content: optimization of lipid and biomass production and relative quantification of the key genes expressed"

Brief Description of work: The work is based on isolation and screening of marine microalgae from west coast of India for biofuel potential, optimisation of the media and culture conditions for high lipid and biomass production and identification and quantification of key genes involved in the neutral lipid biosynthesis.

Ms. Soumya Balakrishnan
Junior Research Fellow
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Title of Work:"Molecular screening, Cell culture based isolation and characterization of finfish and shellfish viruses and establishment of National Repository"

Brief Description of Work: Virology in aquaculture is still in its infancy. Newer viruses are being reported from different parts of the world. The purpose of the research work is to build an extensive database on finfish and shellfish viruses which may be used for further progress in understanding and combating the viruses that wipe out aquaculture stocks from the country.

Ms. Sowmya P Mohandas alt
Senior Research Fellow
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Title of Work:"Polyhydroxybutyrate from Marine bacteria and their potential applications in biological systems"

Brief Description of Work: The work involves isolation & screening of PHB producing bacteria from Marine environment, Development & Standardization of Downstream Process, Characterization of PHB and their use in Biological systems including Drug delivery. The aim of the work is to develop a benchmark product using PHB for suitable biomedical applications. After the development of the product, the technology can be developed and transferred to the industry. Also, the product range can be diversified giving a great opportunity for future research

Ms. Vinusree K. P. alt
Research Scholar
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Title of work: "Selection and identification of immunocompetent early life stages of the giant freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii based on differential mRNA expression"

Brief Description of Work: The work is exclusively based on profiling the immune and immune related gene expression of M. rosenbergii and the identification of immunocompetent early life stages of the same based on differential mRNA expression of immune and immune related genes and resistance to pathogen invasion.