School of Biotechnology

Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai



Dr.K.Dharmalingam (Director)

Dr.Ranjan Prasad  

This centre was established in 1987 as Genetic Engineering Research Unit with financial support from DBT.  The Unit was extended into the 9th plan period,  renamed as Centre for Genetic Engineering and Strain Manipulation (CGESM).  The objective is to conduct research in gram positive prokaryotes for product development and process optimisation.  Special emphasis was to be given for development of novel antitumour antibiotics and other industrially important enzymes. The centre provides instrument support to scientists of SBT working in individual projects. DBT sponsored manpower training programmes are also conducted at regular intervals.


Genetic Engineering Research Unit (GERU), funded by DBT, New Delhi in the 8th plan period (1992-97) is Rs. 1.3 Crores.

Centre for Genetic Engineering and Strain Manipulation (CGESM), funded by DBT in the 9th plan period (1997-2002) is Rs 2.16 Crores.

Achievements :

The centre has provided equipment support to researchers in the SBT for the last 12 years. Recently a 100 litre Fermenter has been commissioned for scaled production.  Additional equipment needed for downstream processing are now in place.

Research on genetic instability of Streptomyces helped to locate and understand the nature of deletion and rearrangements taking place in genome. A protein which is expressed from within unstable region of DNA was identified.

Doxorubicin is antitumour antibiotic which is extensively used for treating people afflicted by different types cancer.  The centre has developed technology to for scaled up production of this drug by growing the producing strain of Streptomyces using cheap carbon and nitrogen sources.

Doxorubicin biosynthesis pathway genes from production strain and non-producing mutant strain of Streptomyces were cloned.

Streptomyces peucetius which produces doxorubicin and daunrubicin was treated with chemical mutagenic agent and a set of biosynthesis blocked mutants were isolated and characterized.

A special type of non-producing mutant that overproduces chitinase was identified.  Chitinase enzyme was purified to homogneity.  N-terminal amino acid sequence showed homology to S. lividans chitinase.  Genomic library was constructed to clone the chitinase gene using probes made with N-terminal amino acid sequence information.

About 200 actinomycetes were isolated form soils of south Tamil Nadu and tested for the synthesis of antibacterial antibiotics.  One in ten isolates produced antibiotics.  Many of these isolates contain pks gene of the anthracyline biosynthesis pathway.