Principal Investigator: dr Branka Vasiljevic
Growing international attention on the importance of soil biodiversity has dictated national strategy of the highest priority for soil microbial diversity preservation through its exploration and sustainable exploitation. Soil is a repository of microorganisms and natural gene-bank, and represents immense source of beneficial bacteria, genes and bioactive products with applicability in white biotechnology. Utilizing autochthonous bacteria, anticipated to be better adapted to the soil environment requiring treatment, should preserve indigenous microbial diversity during bioremediation. Nonetheless, ever demanding market for novel therapeutics is a driving force for continuous search for bacteria producing bioactive compounds. Microbial diversity will be assayed in natural soil ecosystems and soil ecosystems under anthropogenic influence using culture-dependent and -independent techniques. It is accepted that both should be employed in order to avoid gaps in microbial community diversity data. Array of molecular and biochemical techniques will be employed to determine mechanisms of action of selected microbial abilities, to solve bioactive compound structure and to reveal gene(s) involved in its production. Experimental data on heavy metal resistance, biotransformation of pollutants and bioactive compound producers will contribute to better understanding of the exact role of these microorganisms in the environment and to their possible application in white biotechnology.