Microbial Technology Research Group CRI
Our research activities are centred on both fundamental and applied microbiological and biotechnological approaches, with expertise focused on using living systems and organisms to develop products by utilising a variety of techniques – from protein biochemistry and structural techniques to cell culture. We host a cutting-edge scientific research team that contributes to new discoveries and the development of new methods for practical use.
Product development related to industrial microbiology has been revolutionised with the use of genetically engineered cells. Genetic engineering and gene mounting have been developed in the enhancement of industrial fermentation. Consequently, we are also looking into developing new methods to produce bio-based commercial products by using living organisms. Bioprocessing, Microbiology and Molecular Biology units are two sub-clusters under this research cluster.
The goal of this research cluster is to:
- Understand and develop biological methods to exploit the properties of bacteria to make useful products using fundamental biotechnology approaches.
- Pursue collaborative research with national and international research institutes.
This research unit focuses on the development of primary and secondary metabolites for industrial applications. Primary focus is given on the upstream and downstream productions of biopolymer, biocatalyst and silver nanoparticles. The current prominence on sustainability, eco-efficiency and green chemistry has generated interest in searching for materials that are renewable and environmentally friendly.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are one of the versatile classes of biopolymers with important ecosystem functions and high biotechnological potentials. Our current research focuses on the medical application of PHAs, particularly in the drug delivery system. Application of PHAs in the drug delivery system also signifies a new multidisciplinary approach that combines polymer science and pharmaceutics in the delivery of drugs for the therapeutic treatment. PHA microspheres are prepared for the encapsulation of several drugs such as antibiotics and anticancer. They can serve as a carrier or scaffold supporting more and better cell growth for either injectable purposes or simply supporting cell growth.
Emphasis has been given on the synthesis of biocatalyst using agro-waste in line with the ‘waste to wealth’ concept. Innumerable enzymes that have numerous applications in industrial processes for food, drug, textile, and dye use have been produced from different types of microorganisms. Development of strains and production of biocatalyst by lowering the production cost have been the main interest of the researchers.
Nanotechnology research is an emerging field and much focus has been given on integrating microbes for the synthesis of nanoparticles. Researchers are working to investigate ways for further integration of this technology to uncover strategies for prevention of antibiotic resistant microbes.
Microbiology and Molecular Unit
Researchers in this sub-cluster work on many aspects of microbial molecular biology, from fundamental studies to applied research. Attention has been given on the isolation and characterisation of specific bacteria that play an important role in the environment. Other than that, research on prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals was also conducted. In the future, genetic modification could be applied to develop better strains in the hope of paving a way to solve environmental problems. Among research in this area are:
- Characterisation of plastic degrading bacteria from landfill site.
- Characterisation of nitrogen fixing bacteria from termite gut.
- Isolation and Identification of Pesticide Tolerating Bacteria from the Agricultural Soils of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
- Analysis on the distribution of Quorum Sensing bacteria in the environment
- Study on the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria isolated from chicken meat.