Group Leader, Omics of Algae
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
Aruna Asaf Ali Marg
110 067 New Delhi, India
Tel: +91-11-26741358 ext 451
Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India, PhD, 2005
Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India, MPhil, 2001
Kuvempu University, Davanagere, Karnataka, India, MSc, 1999
Since 2012, Team Leader, DBT-ICGEB Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Research, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, India
2009-2012, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA
2008-2009, Lecturer, BITS-Pilani (Goa Campus), Goa, India
2006-2008, ISSAR Pharma Pvt Ltd/USP India Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad, India
2005-2006, Research Associate, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India
Our objective is to understand basic biology and metabolic/regulatory pathways in unicellular photosynthetic model microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii regarded as non-oleaginous. While under optimal growth conditions, it synthesizes fatty acids principally for esterification into membrane lipids, under conditions limiting to growth, particularly nutrient deprivation, it slows down the cell proliferation and alters the lipid biosynthetic pathways towards the formation and accumulation of the carbohydrates (starch) and neutral lipid triacylglycerols (TAGs). TAGs are one of the most energy-rich forms of reduced carbon available from nature. They can be converted to biodiesel by trans-esterification with methanol in the presence of an acid or alkali catalyst. C. reinhardtii is unlikely to be chosen for biofuel production. However, it is a model alga whose complete genome is available and used as a reference to understand metabolic and regulatory networks involved in lipid metabolism and TAG accumulation. For economic viability and sustainability of algal biofuels, it is essential to understand the basic biology of potential microalgae, particularly the effects of environmental stresses on cellular metabolisms and the regulation of biosynthetic pathways of fatty acids and TAGs, as well as carbon fixation and allocation. Neutral lipid biosynthesis and turnover have been studied in higher eukaryotes particularly yeast, mice, and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana where extensive knowledge exists on lipid metabolism and several key enzymes identified. However, these pathways are not fully documented in microalgae and little is known about the enzymes involved in the formation, accumulation, or degradation of TAGs. More research is needed to understand signal perception and transduction under stress and different molecular mechanisms leading to TAG and starch accumulations in microalgae. In this context, rapidly developing systems-level “Omics” analyses (transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics), which are both sensitive and quantitative, and the availability of annotated genomes allow us to investigate changes in response to environmental stress. This may provide useful hypotheses for microalgal strain improvement to optimize their biofuel production.
Currently, our research project focuses on:
- Identification and characterization of robust microalgae from various collections for the genetic improvements for biofuel production.
- Genome sequencing and annotation of selected microalgae for facilitating pathway engineering.
- Investigating components of lipid biosynthetic pathway and its regulation in microalgae.
- Characterization of quality of lipid in the microalgae and corresponding biosynthetic pathways.
- Engineering microalgae for improving the quality of lipid for biodiesel production.
- Study of genetic mechanism and enzymes responsible for self-flocculation and its exploitation in algae.
Our findings will provide important breakthrough on central metabolism in these microalgae, which are required for biotechnological improvement of next-generation biofuel production.
Asha, A.N., Kashif, M.S., Mundree, S., Jutur P.P. Triggers and Cues in the Activation of Algal Metabolic Pathways. Algal Green Chemistry: Recent Progress in Biotechnology. Ed. R.P. Rastogi, D. Madamwar, A. Pandey. Elsevier Science, 2016
Asha, A.N., Kashif, M.S., Jutur, P.P. De novo Transcriptomics in Marine Microalgae: An Advanced Genetic Engineering Approach for Next-Generation Renewable Biofuels. Marine OMICS: Principles and Applications. Ed. S.K. Kim. CRC Press, July 2016
Asha, A.N., Kashif, M.S., Jutur, P.P. Genetic Engineering of Microalgae for Production of Value-Added Ingredients. Handbook of Marine Microalgae: Biotechnology Advances. Ed. S.K. Kim, Elsevier Science, 2015 pp. 371-381
Jutur, P.P., Asha, A.N. Genetic Engineering of Marine Microalgae to Optimize Bioenergy Production. Handbook of Marine Microalgae: Biotechnology Advances. Ed. S.K. Kim, Elsevier Science, 2015 pp. 405-414
Jutur, P.P., Asha, A.N. Marine Microalgae: Exploring the Systems through an Omics Approach for Biofuel Production. Marine Bioenergy: Trends and Developments. Ed. S.K. Kim, C.G. Lee. CRC Press, 2015 pp. 149-162
Kashif, M.S., Jutur, P.P. Manipulation of Essential Metabolic Pathway Genes for Enhanced Production of Microalgal Renewables: Insights from Phylogenomics and Future Challenges. Algal Green Chemistry: Recent Progress in Biotechnology. Ed. R.P. Rastogi, D. Madamwar, A. Pandey. Elsevier Science, 2016
Singh, R., Mattam, A.J., Jutur, P.P., Yazdani, S.S. Synthetic Biology in Biofuels Production. Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine: Synthetic Biology. Ed. R.A. Meyers. Vol. II (PART VI: Chemicals Production): Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. 2015 pp. 665-698