Metabolic Engineering

INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY  / Biofuels and Industrial Biotechnology

Research Interests

Genetic engineering and synthetic biology approaches for sustainable algae biofuel. Metabolic Engineering of plants for drugs biosynthesis; Genome editing, Chloroplast genome transformation, Nuclear genome engineering, Biofuel, Algae, Bioremediation of wastewater, Terpenoid drugs biosynthesis, Secondary Metabolites, Metabolic Engineering

Description of Research

Genome Editing and algae biofuel
Using genome editing tools, several industrially important marine strains have been genetically modified (GM) using heterogeneous inorganic carbon transporters LCIA and LCIB, which considerably enhanced the photosynthetic activity of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase (Rubisco) enzymes. The GM algal strains resulted with higher lipid accumulation and four-fold higher biomass productivity comparative to wildtype.

Phycoremediation of wastewater The human societies produce about 3 billion tons of domestic wastewater every year and about 4400 million cubic meters by Delhi alone. Therefore, we have optimized the algae-based bioremediation of wastewater while generating the plenty of biomass to produce biofuels. The consortium of algae may be useful for wastewater remediation while incurring the biomass that can be processed via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) to make the process cost effective and suitable for the existing refineries.

Research collaborations with industries
The Metabolic Engineering Group is focused on collaborating with different industrial partners for providing comprehensive and integrated research-based solutions to challenging problems. In the past, we have collaborated with Reliance Industries Limited India; Aban Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (Biotechnology Division) India; Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) India; PanAridus-OSU, USA.

Synthetic biology and drugs biosynthesis
In a synthetic biology approach, we have produced artemisinin at clinically meaningful levels by rationalised expression of the biosynthetic pathway into three different plant organelles. Oral feeding of whole intact transgenic plant material encapsulating the biosynthetic artemisinin has reduced the malarial parasitemia levels rapidly in challenged mice when compared to pure commercial artemisinin (read more).

Carbon concentration mechanism study using 100L photbioreactors. L-R: WT and transgenic line GM10 after 5 and 10 days of growth. Pilot scale study showed 4-fold biomass productivity in transgenic cells compared to wildtype

Recent Publications

Bhatnagar, V.P., Bandyopadhyay, P., Rajacharya, G.H., Sarkar, S., Poluri, K.M., Kumar, S. 2019. Amelioration of biomass and lipid in marine alga by an endophytic fungus Piriformospora indica. Biotech for Biofuels 12, 176 PubMed link

Augustine, A., Tanwar, A., Tremblay, R., Kumar, S. 2019. Flocculation processes optimization for reuse of culture medium without pH neutralization. Algal Res 39, 101437 Link to article

Nawkarkar P, Singh AK, Abdin MZ, Kumar S (2019) Life cycle assessment of Chlorella species producing biodiesel and remediating wastewater. J Biosciences, 44, 89 Link to article

Kunrunmi, O., Adesalu, T., Kumar, S. 2017. Genetic identification of new microalgal species from Epe Lagoon of West Africa accumulating high lipids. Algal Research 22, 68-78 Link to article

Singh, D., Kumar, S., Daniell, H. 2016. Expression of Beta-glucosidase increases trichome density and artemisinin content in transgenic Artemisia annua plants. Plant Biotech J 16, 1034-1045 PubMed link

Malhotra, K., Subramaniyan, M., Rawat, K., Kalamuddin, M., Qureshi, M.F., Malhotra, P., Mohmmed, A., Cornish, K., Daniell, H., Kumar, S. 2016. Compartmentalized metabolic engineering for artemisinin biosynthesis and effective malaria treatment by oral delivery of plant cells. Mol Plant, 9, 1464-1477 PubMed link


Kang. B., McMahan. C.M., Whalen. M.C., Dong, N., Kumar, S. 2016. Engineering rubber production in plants. US 20140325699, WO/2014/152747.