Molecular Biology Unit (Probiotics, Gut Microbiota and Diversity of fermented milk products ): Dr. Sunita Grover and Ms. Rashmi, H.M.
Molecular Biology Unit (MBU) was created during early 1990s as a centre for carrying out research and teaching activities related to Process Biotechnology. The unit has been able to develop state of the art facility to pursue hard core science in frontier areas of molecular biology and dairy biotechnology with the financial support received from UNDP/FAO, World Bank (NARP), ICAR, Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR). Apart from carrying out basic and applied research, the unit is also involved in imparting specialized training in modern molecular biology techniques such as molecular cloning, PCR/Real time PCR (RT-qPCR) techniques, identification of bacteria by molecular tools, tissue culture etc. The focus of the unit is on development of indigenous probiotic strains of Indian gut origin for their application as bio-therapeutic agents by studying their functional efficacy through gene expression in appropriate tissue culture cell lines and animal models. Two indigenous strains of probiotic lactobacilli have been commercialized. The unit has also conducted metagenomic study on the healthy human subjects recruited from north and north east Indian population with entirely different food habits to look at the metagenome of their respective commensal gut microbiota and preponderance of specific phylotypes under different dietary conditions besides gut microbiota profiles of autistic and malnourished children in collaboration with AIIMS and PGI, Chandigarh. The work on diversity profiling of traditional fermented products like ‘dahi’ using metagenomic and culturomic approaches has been initiated.
Anaerobic Microbiology: Dr. A.K.Puniya
The anaerobic laboratory works on the diversity of anaerobic Bifidobacterial spp. and obligatory rumen fungi. The laboratory also conducts research on mitigation of methane emissions from enteric fermentation, metagenomic analysis of reductive acetogens, biomarkers for taxonomy of rumen fungi, direct-fed microbials, etc. Besides, focus is also on the management of life style diseases (i.e. diabetes and obesity) by exploring the role of probiotics (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria), especially through digestive enzyme(s) inhibition, conjugated linoleic/ linolenic acids and/ or development of dairy based functional food(s).
Techno-functional Starter Laboratory (TFSL): Drs. Sudhir Kumar Tomar and Pradip V. Behare
The research area of TFSL is “bio-prospection of native lactic acid bacteria strains for development of techno-functional starters”. Currently, the laboratory is actively engaged in bio-prospecting of native strains for lactic acid bacteria (LAB), their characterization for production of functional bio-molecules (exo-polysaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides, low calorie sugars, vitamins), proteomic studies of LAB, formulation of single and mixed defined strain starters for fermented dairy foods, stable and active ready to use functional starters as DVS, development of functional fermented dairy foods and cost effective bioprocesses for production of functional metabolites.
Microbial Biosensor, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Laboratory: Dr. Naresh Kumar and Mr. Raghu, H.V.
Quality and safety has become one of the important area of concern primarily because of wide spread outbreaks linked with pathogenic bacteria and their toxins through ready to eat foods including dairy products. Further, food safety standards are constantly under review and new safety standards based on risk analysis are being introduced in codex. Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently introduced new microbiological criteria which includes hygiene indicators (TVC, coliform, YMC) and pathogenic bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Sulphite Reducing Clostridia) for their compliance as two and three class sampling plan for milk and milk products. Our research group is working in the area of food safety and successful efforts have been carried out in the development of sensors for antibiotics, β-lactam group, aflatoxin M1 in milk using bacterial spores as bio-recognition molecules. Similar approaches were also executed to detect L. monocytogenes, E. coli and Enterococci in milk employing markers enzymes. New know- how so generated through external funded projects (MFPI, NAIP, Outreach) were protected through patents and licensed to stake holders in our country for industrial application. Apart from research, state of the art infrastructure facilities which include clean room, BSL-3 containment and testing equipments (EMCCD, SPR, D-Count, VIDAS, Charm system) were also established for execution of inter-disciplinary/ externally funded research projects.
Functional Fermented Foods and Bioactive Peptides: Dr. Shilpa Vij
This cell is actively engaged in the research and development of functional fermented foods and bio-processing of whey into value added products. Processes have been standardized for various fermented dairy and non dairy foods and whey based products. The technologies have been developed for biofunctional fruit yoghurts, soy based yoghurt, soy dahi and whey based functional probiotic beverages. The laboratory is also engaged in production of antimicrobial bioactive peptides from milk protein like whey and casein, and also from soy proteins and biopreservation of dairy products. The laboratory is also involved in the research project on the production of bioethanol from whey using stress tolerant yeasts.
Synbiotic Functional Foods: Dr. Chand Ram
Synbiotic functional foods facility at Dairy Microbiology Division was established in the year, 2009. The laboratory is involved in development of synbiotic functional fermented dairy foods fortified with probiotic, prebiotic and plant bioactive components to prevent diseases in humans as an alternative to antimicrobial treatments. The focus is to identify and understand factors involved in disease initiation, progression and their prevention in vitro and in vivo animal models to improve human health and productivity by preventive healthcare. The research laboratory has developed process technologies for manufacture of probiotic tulsi dahi for cholesterol reduction, synbiotic Misti Dahi and yoghurt with improved food safety and shelf life, blueberry fortified probiotic Dahi for prevention of colon cancer, probiotic direct vat set (DVS/DVI) cultures for short set dahi. Currently, we are focusing on prevention/treatment of non alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD), bio-transformation of cholesterol for hypocholesterolemic effects, bioremediation of toxic metals, antibiotics and aflatoxins, control of biofilms in dairy niche, food safety and bio-preservation of dairy foods by natural plant bioactive components.
Microbial metabolites and bio-preservation: Dr. Diwas Pradhan
Lactic acid bacteria synthesize a variety of inhibitory compounds, which prevent the development of undesirable bacteria in the fermented foods. Among all the antibacterial substances, bacteriocins offer the best incentive for the preservation and prevention of food spoilage by undesirable microorganisms and are thus unique with respect to their role in the biopreservation of foods. Bacteriocins are small, single or complex proteins or proteinaceous substances. The bacteriocins with a wide inhibitory spectrum are interesting because of their potential to control the growth of spoilage and pathogenic flora. The cell is engaged in isolation of bacteriocinogenic lactic acid bacteria, production, purification, characterization of bacteriocins and their application in bio-preservation besides development of bacteriocins based antimicrobial packaging for enhancing the shelf life and safety.
National Collection of Dairy Cultures (NCDC) : Dr. Sudhir Kumar Tomar
The National Collection of Dairy Cultures (NCDC) is a national facility being maintained at the Division of Dairy Microbiology since 1960. The NCDC stock includes strains of bacteria, fungi and yeasts. The main interest of the collection lies in the lactic acid bacteria from dairy sources. Besides individual strain cultures, the NCDC also holds mixed strain (traditional) and defined strain-formulated cultures for making different varieties of cheese and fermented milks. The NCDC caters to the need of dairy industry, research organizations as well as educational institutions. It also organizes specialized training programmes and workshops etc. to provide know-how on maintenance and preservation of cultures, propagation of dairy starter cultures and other related aspects. The NCDC is an Affiliate Member of the World Federation for Culture Collections and is also registered with the World Data Center on Microorganisms (registration number WDCM 775). It has also been listed in the World Directory of Culture Collections published by the WDCM, Japan.
Electron Microscopy Centre : Dr. Sudhir Kumar Tomar
The Electron Microscopy Centre of the Division has been established as a central facility for carrying out research in the advanced area of ultra structure of microorganisms and microstructure of dairy foods. The Electron Microscopy Center at NDRI is a core facility providing all levels of technical support and consultation in the area of light microscopy, electron microscopy, and image analysis. The centre is located at Room No.110, G- Floor, Dairy Microbiology Division. It provides microscopy and specimen preparation services for biological and food science research. In addition, the centre offers necessary training and access to all microscopes and ancillary equipment to faculty, staff, and students of different divisions of the NDRI as well as external users. This centre is operated on a cost-recovery basis and fees are accessed for consumables, equipment use, and staff support. The major instruments in the EM Centre include a Scanning Electron Microscope (EVO 18, Zeiss, U.K.), Transmission Electron Microscope (Jeol, JEM-1010, Japan). The ancillary equipment includes Ultramicrotome, Sputter coater and Critical point dryer.
Central Instrument Laboratory: Dr. Chand Ram
Divisional central instrument laboratory is well equipped with various latest equipments viz., Thermocycler, Gel Documentation System, ELISA Plate Reader, Microphotography Microscope, Spectrophotometer, High Speed Centrifuge, Water Purification System, Ice Flecking Machine, Sonicator etc. This facility caters to the needs of faculty, research scholars and students of the division as well as the institute.
National Referral Centre on Milk Quality and Safety : Dr. Naresh Kumar and Mr. Raghu H.V.
National referral centre on milk quality and safety (NRCMQS) with funding under NAIP project was establishment at NDRI in 2014 for addressing the scientific issues on milk safety in our country with the mandate to provide scientific solution in specialized field of milk safety and quality assurance; to carry out Risk Profile Work on Potential Contaminants in milk and milk products; development of milk safety standards, sampling plan and testing procedures for regulatory compliance; Rapid Biosensor Based Tools/Assay/Kits for field application and to conduct training on HRD development on milk quality. State of the art laboratory having equipments such as Biosafety cabinets, VIDAS multiple pathogen detection system, RT- PCR, Multimode plate reader, Centrifuge, Automatic media preparatory cum sterilizer, Biacore Surface Plasmon Resonance system, D count flowcytometer etc.