Invited Talk: Alternative renewable resources: Issues and perspectives for India – the case of transport fuels @ Sathyam Hall
Aug 12 @ 11:25 am – 11:45 am

ashokAshok Pandey, Ph.D.
Scientist F & Head, Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology-CSIR), Thiruvananthapuram, India

Alternative renewable resources: Issues and perspectives for India – the case of transport fuels

With the increase in the urbanization way of life and also more and more dependence on materialistic life, there is substantial growing demand for the energy. The science and technological policy of the India has looked several avenues to fulfill this demand through alternative resources such as solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, bioenergy, etc. The demand for the transport sector is largely met through the import (~70%). Biofuels, in particular bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass offer attractive possibilities in this regard.

The sugar platform which generates ethanol is considered to be the most valuable solution to the transport fuel demand. Bioethanol can be generated from grains as well as from lignocellulosic plant material by their saccharification to sugars and subsequent fermentation of the sugars to produce ethanol. Bio-ethanol as a transportation fuel is attractive since it is more energy efficient than gasoline and produces less emissions.  The benefits of developing biomass to ethanol technology(s) include: increased national energy security, reduction in GHG emissions, use of renewable resources, economic benefits and creation of employment and the foundation of a carbohydrate based chemical industry. However, the utilization of lignocellulosic biomass for fuel generation has not been given the sort of attention it ought to receive. It is known that the technology for ethanol production from biomass has to evolve greatly for an economical commercial scale utilization of the renewable biomass resources. Biomass requires extensive processing involving multiple steps for hydrolysis and fermentation of the raw material for producing ethanol. Feed stock availability, pretreatment, saccharification, fermentation and ethanol recovery are all factors which influence the production of ethanol and which needs R&D efforts for overall improvement of the production economics.

Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass (LB) can contribute significantly to the production of organic chemicals also. LB is also considered to be the only foreseeable source of energy. LB is mainly composed of (dry wt basis): cellulose, 40-60; hemicellulose, 20-40; and lignin, 10-25%. Most efficient method of biomass hydrolysis is through enzymatic saccharification5 using cellulases and hemicellulases. Fungal cellulases (FCs) have proved to be a better candidate than other microbial cellulases, with their secreted free cellulase complexes comprising all three components of cellulase [endoglucanases, exoglucanases and cellobiases (glucosidases).

The Centre for Biofuels at NIIST, Trivandrum, India aims ultimately to develop technologies and processes which will address the nation’s need for making fuel ethanol from the renewable resource: biomass.  It is proposed to direct R&D activities at the major requirements of a biomass-ethanol technology, which include production of cellulases, hydrolysis of biomass, and ethanol fermentation.   Viable technologies for each of these processes will contribute to the overall process development for fuel alcohol production from cheap and renewable biomass resources.

The lecture would present perspectives on bioethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks.


  1. Biofuels- Alternative Feedstocks and Conversion Processes, Editors-  Ashok Pandey, C Larroche, SC Ricke, CG Dussap & E Gnansounou, Academic Press, Elsevier Inc; San Diego, USA, p629 (2011) ISBN: 978-0-12-385099-7
  2. Handbook of Plant-Based Biofuels, Editor- Ashok Pandey, CRC Press, Francis & Taylors, Boca Raton, USA, p 297 (2008) ISBN 978-q-5602-2175-3
  3. Biofuels II, Special issue of Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, Guest Editors- E Gnansounou, C Larroche and Ashok Pandey, 67(11), 837-1040 (2008) ISSN: 0022-4456
  4. Biofuels, Special issue of Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, Guest Editors- C Larroche and Ashok Pandey, 64(11), 797-988 (2005) ISSN: 0022-4456

Ashok Pandey

Invited Talk: Neuroprotective and neurodestructive effects of Ayurvedic drug constituents: Parkinson’s disease @ Amriteshwari Hall
Aug 12 @ 2:55 pm – 3:20 pm

mohanakumarK. P. Mohanakumar, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist, Cell Biology & Physiology Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata

Neuroprotective and neurodestructive effects of Ayurvedic drug constituents: Parkinson’s disease

The present study reports the good and the bad entities in an Indian traditional medicine used for treating Parkinson’s disease (PD). A prospective clinical trial on the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medication in a population of PD patients revealed significant benefits, which has been attributed to L-DOPA present in the herbs [1]. Later studies revealed better benefits with one of the herbs alone, compared to pure L-DOPA in a clinical trial conducted in UK [2], and in several studies conducted on animal models of PD in independent laboratories world over [3-5]. We have adapted strategies to segregate molecules from the herb, and then carefully removed L-DOPA contained therein, and tested each of these sub-fractions for anti-PD activity in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine, rotenone and 6-hydroxydopamine -induced parkinsonian animal models, and transgenic mitochondrial cybrids. We report here two classes of molecules contained in the herb, one of which possessed severe pro-parkinsonian (phenolic amine derivatives) and the other having excellent anti-parkinsonian potential (substituted tetrahydroisoquinoline derivatives). The former has been shown to cause severe dopamine depletion in the striatum of rodents, when administered acutely or chronically. It also caused significant behavioral aberrations, leading to anxiety and depression [6]. The latter class of molecules administered in PD animal model [7], caused reversal of behavioral dysfunctions and significant attenuation of striatal dopamine loss. These effects were comparable or better than the effects of the anti-PD drugs, selegiline or L-DOPA. The mechanism of action of the molecule has been found to be novel, at the postsynaptic receptor signaling level, as well as cellular α-synuclein oligomerization and specifically at mitochondria. The molecule helped in maintaining mitochondrial ETC complex activity and stabilized cellular respiration, and mitochondrial fusion-fission machinery with specific effect on the dynamin related protein 1. Although there existed significant medical benefits that could be derived to patients due to the synergistic actions of several molecules present in a traditional preparation, accumulated data in our hands suggest complicated mechanisms of actions of Ayurvedic medication. Our results also provide great hope for extracting, synthesizing and optimizing the activity of anti-parkinsonian molecules present in traditional Ayurvedic herbs, and for designing novel drugs with novel mechanisms of action.

  1. N, Nagashayana, P Sankarankutty, MRV Nampoothiri, PK Mohan and KP Mohanakumar, J Neurol Sci. 176, 124-7, 2000.
  2. Katzenschlager R, Evans A, Manson A, Patsalos PN, Ratnaraj N, Watt H, Timmermann L, Van der Giessen R, Lees AJ. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry.75, 1672-7, 2004.
  3. Manyam BV, Dhanasekaran M, Hare TA. Phytother Res. 18, 706-12, 2004.
  4. Kasture S, Pontis S, Pinna A, Schintu N, Spina L, Longoni R, Simola N, Ballero M, Morelli M. Neurotox Res. 15, 111-22, 2009.
  5. Lieu CA, Kunselman AR, Manyam BV, Venkiteswaran K, Subramanian T. Parkinsonism Relat Disord.16, 458-65, 2010.
  6. T Sengupta and KP Mohanakumar, Neurochem Int. 57, 637-46, 2010.
  7. T Sengupta, J Vinayagam, N Nagashayana, B Gowda, P Jaisankar and KP Mohanakumar, Neurochem Res 36, 177-86, 2011

MOhan (1) MOhan (2)

Plenary Talk: Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes @ Amriteshwari Hall
Aug 13 @ 10:06 am – 10:49 am

NaderNader Pourmand, Ph.D.
Director, UCSC Genome Technology Center,University of California, Santa Cruz

Biosensor and Single Cell Manipulation using Nanopipettes

Approaching sub-cellular biological problems from an engineering perspective begs for the incorporation of electronic readouts. With their high sensitivity and low invasiveness, nanotechnology-based tools hold great promise for biochemical sensing and single-cell manipulation. During my talk I will discuss the incorporation of electrical measurements into nanopipette technology and present results showing the rapid and reversible response of these subcellular sensors  to different analytes such as antigens, ions and carbohydrates. In addition, I will present the development of a single-cell manipulation platform that uses a nanopipette in a scanning ion-conductive microscopy technique. We use this newly developed technology to position the nanopipette with nanoscale precision, and to inject and/or aspirate a minute amount of material to and from individual cells or organelle without comprising cell viability. Furthermore, if time permits, I will show our strategy for a new, single-cell DNA/ RNA sequencing technology that will potentially use nanopipette technology to analyze the minute amount of aspirated cellular material.