Blue revolution: DBT’s mega project on aquaculture & marine biotech

The Department of Biotechnology has announced the launch of national network project on molecular screening, cell culture-based isolation and characterization of finfish and shellfish viruses and establishment of a national repository

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New Delhi: The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India has launched a National Network project on “Molecular screening, cell culture-based isolation and characterization of finfish and shellfish viruses and Establishment of National Repository” having five participating Institutions.

The five institutions include National Centre for Aquatic Animal Health, Cochin University of Science and Technology, C Abdul Hakeem College, Tamilnadu, ICAR – Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, ICAR – Central Institute of Fresh Water Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar, Faculty of Fisheries, Sher–e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology of Kashmir, Rangil.

Approved objectives of the project are: Standardization/development of PCR conditions for the detection of all known finfish and shellfish-associated viruses; PCR/RT-PCR based screening for the viruses from Orissa and West Bengal; Isolation of viruses on cell lines; Characterization of the isolated viruses, and Establishment of repository for the finfish and shellfish viruses.

As per DBT notification, there is every possibility that after its completion the nation will have the capability to address the outbreak of viral diseases in finfish and shell fish culture systems, in their diagnosis and containment in support of aquaculture.

The three-year network project worth Rs 4.88,932 crores is being implemented under the overall coordination by Prof I S Bright Singh, and the institutes with the involvement of Dr T P Sajeevan (CUSAT), Dr A S Sahul Hameed (C.A. Abdul Hakeem College) Dr K V Rajendran (CIFE), Dr P K Sahoo (CIFA) and Dr Feroz A. Shah (SKUAST-Kashmir) as Principal Investigators.

The progress of the said project that originally started in July 2017 was reviewed in a Coordination Committee meeting conducted on 22nd June 2018 at Sher–e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology of Kashmir.

A look at the backdrop

Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology programme of the department was initiated during 1988-89 to support R&D and demonstration nature projects towards development of useful products and process from the marine resources. It was also for aquaculture production and productivity increase through improved technology with the adoption of biotechnology tools and techniques.

The purpose of the programme was to create visible impact in the form of creation of specialised manpower in molecular biology, infrastructure development and establishment of sophisticated R&D facilities for augmenting and expediting research. The innovations supported expected to benefit the aquatic and marine sectors and help the scientific and research community in pursuing good research priorities by putting emphasis on various sectors of Aquaculture & Marine Biotechnology addressing areas viz. feed and nutrition, health, environment and productivity increase through adoption of molecular tools and techniques, aspects on marine genomics and proteomics and extremophiles.