Hyderabad: India has entered the bacterial domain with a new genus of bacteria, discovered recently, named after the country.
Though some plant and animal species are named after India, it is the first time that a whole genus is named after it. The Indibacter genus discovered by a team of CCMB researchers in Lonar lake of Buldhana district of Maharashtra could be useful in biotech industry for starch hydrolyses or breaking down of starch into sugars.
"We have named the bacteria in honour of our country, India," the CCMB team said. CCMB, ISRO and other research organisations in the country have earlier discovered a number of new bacteria, but they are
named either after ancient Indian personalities like Aryabhata or after the unique properties the organism exhibits or the place of their discovery.
The discovery of Indibacter will throw new insight into the complex system of breaking down of sugars. It could also be useful in the fast emerging biotechnology sector in the country.
Indibacter is a gram-stain-negative, rod-shaped, non-motile bacterium. The CCMB team isolated it from a water sample collected at a depth of 3.5 m from the Lonar, a soda lake. "The cell suspension was reddish-orange due to the presence of carotenoids. It tolerates 8 per cent salinity and high alkalinity up to 12 per cent," the CCMB team led by Dr S Shivaji pointed out.
Lonar lake is noted for its high alkalinity thanks to the presence of sodium carbonate in water. As many as 55 species of bacteria from 41 genera have been discovered so far. Indibacter is the latest addition to this group of bacteria that loves alkalinity.
Earlier, 16 genera of bacteria were discovered from the Lonar lake. The new bacteria named after India was able to reduce nitrate to nitrite and hydrolyse aesculin and starch.