From left to right: Dr. David Pang, Vimal Kumar Balasubramaniam, Dr. Krishan M. Rai, Amrita Dhal, Cassie Welker, Dr. Venugopal Mendu.
I have been given the opportunity to attend a research training under Borlaug Fellowship Program at Texas Tech University (TTU), Lubbock, Texas, USA. Borlaug Fellowship Program was established by USDA in March 2004 to honor the Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug. The purpose of the program is to help developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing scientific training and collaborative research opportunities. The program increases scientific knowledge and promotes long-term collaboration with universities, government agencies and research centers in USA.
The duration of my training program is 12 weeks, starting from 12th Jan till 4th April 2015. The objective of my training is to identify plant cell wall degrading enzymes and their use in biofuel production from soil bacteria. During my research training, I was assigned under the supervision of Dr. Venugopal Mendu. Dr. Mendu is an assistant professor in Texas Tech University’s Department of Plant & Soil Science. He is a research scientist who specializes in plant physiology and biochemistry. One of his laboratory's goal is to identify and characterize the genes involved in the plant cell wall biosynthesis using model plant Arabidopsis and apply for cotton fiber improvement.
During the program, I was trained in plant protein extraction, laccase enzyme zymography and 2D SDS-PAGE gel under the supervision of his graduate student, Vimal Kumar Balasubramaniam. Laccase are one of the lignin-degrading enzymes involving in depolymerazation lignin. The deconstruction of lignin can enhance the release of fermentable sugar from plant cell. The use of lignin-degrading enzymes in pretreatment could overcome the high cost in removing lignin from plant, thus produce environmentally friendly biofuel.
I am now in the progress of carrying out whole genome sequencing of bacteria species isolated from SBC. The analysis of the sequencing data will identify the novel plant cell wall degrading wall enzymes. End of the training, a manuscript about the work will be published under SBC and TTU authorship. A potential long term collaboration between SBC and TTU in future will be discussed following a visit by Dr. Mendu in Jan 2016.