BIOTEC Researchers Awarded the Taguchi Prize 2019

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Dr. Verawat Champreda was awarded the Taguchi Prize for Outstanding Researcher 2019 for his work on “Discovery, development and engineering of microbes and enzymes from diversity for biorefinery and bioeconomy”.

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The work aims to add value to the country’s abundance agricultural raw materials by integrating biotechnology and chemical technology with the development of microbes and enzymes for greener industries to cater to the need of the industrial sector. The project encompasses a complete technology chain in biorefinery process from pretreatment and fractionation of lignocellulosic materials. Various enzymes used for degradation, modification and conversion of the fractionated lignocellulosic components have been obtained through conventional culture dependent screening of the BIOTEC Culture Collection in combination with culture-independent metagenomics approaches. “Enzyme Library”, a collection of crude multi-activity and recombinant single-activity cellulases, hemicellulases and ligninases as well as auxiliary components derived from cultured and uncultured microbes has been established. These enzymes and auxiliary components are used for designing efficient tailor-made synergistic cellulolytic enzyme systems with higher performance and specificity for production of sugar monomers and oligomers from local agricultural by-products. Selected enzymes such as xylo-oligosaccharide-specific xylanase derived from bagasse pile metagenome for pre-biotic synthesis and an alkaliphilic endo-xylanase derived from termite gut metagenome for pulp bleaching were further engineered by rational design and directed evolution to improve their catalytic performance and stability. Sugar is then converted to biofuels and biochemicals using microbial strains developed by adaptive evolution and synthetic metabolic pathway design in combination with bio-process optimization for higher productivity.

The project is carried out in partnership with leading international and local corporations from various industrial sectors. The country’s microbial bioresource is exploited and agricultural raw materials are transformed into high-value compound used in bio-based industry.

Mr. Narong Arunrut, Senior Research Assistant, Bioengineering and Sensing Technology Research Team, was awarded the Taguchi Prize for Outstanding Thesis Award 2019. Mr. Arunrut was recognized for his Master’s Degree research thesis entitled “Development of Molecular Biology Technique for Specific and Sensitive Detection of Foodbourne Bacterial Pathogens”.

Narong

The study aims to develop technique of molecular biology for detection of foodborne bacterial pathogens. Comparison was drawn between the results obtained from this study and those of a conventional culture-based method. Two different techniques are developed. The multiplex PCR (m-PCR) assay was developed for simultaneous detection of Salmonella spp., Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus. The second technique is a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay combined with portable turbidimeter which is developed for sensitive detection of Salmonella spp. Validation of the two techniques was carried out on meat samples (raw chicken and pork) in order to prove the performance against that of the standard culture-based method. The results demonstrated that those methods are an accurate, sensitive and specific and can be used for rapid detection and differentiation of foodborne diseases.

The Taguchi Prize aims at rewarding scientists with outstanding achievements, graduate students with exceptional thesis and private sector with significant contribution to the biotechnology communities in Thailand in terms of research and technological development. The award ceremony was held at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Thai Society for Biotechnology and International Conference (TSB 2019) in Phuket.

Posted on 9 December 2019.