TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS FOR EXPLORATION AND CONSERVATION OF DEEP-SEA BIODIVERSITY
The Government of India has launched its ambitious Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) through the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) with an intention to develop technologies to harness the living and non-living resources from the deep-oceans. The mission focuses the following six thematic areas i) Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, Manned Submersible, and Underwater Robotics, ii) Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services, iii) Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity, iv) Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration, v) Energy and freshwater from the Ocean and vi) Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology which will be implemented by the institutions of MoES and its partner institutions. Among the six themes the theme (iii) Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity is being implemented by the Centre for Marine Living Resources in association with the National Institute of Ocean Technology and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
Technological Innovations for Exploration and Conservation of Deep-sea Biodiversity
Deep sea harbours the highest biodiversity on earth with novel bio-molecules of industrial and biomedical importance. The ever-expanding search for the sources of new chemical diversity, the exploration of deep-sea organisms, particularly microorganisms have emerged as a new frontier in drug discovery and development. Despite the enormous significance, Indian deep-sea environments are meagerly explored and cutting edge technologies for harnessing the deep-sea resources are scarce. To address this challenge, “Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity” is projected as one of the thematic areas of research under the Deep Ocean Mission with the following objectives:
- Inventorization, archival of deep-sea fauna and development of DNA bank.
- Capacity building on deep-sea taxonomy through systematic training.
- Isolation of deep-sea symbionts, piezotolerant and piezophilic microbes.
- Screening for novel biomolecules using culture-based and metagenomic approaches.
- Assessment of biofouling, bio-corrosion processes in deep-sea environment and develop new antifouling technologies.
Under this initiative, inventorization of deep-sea fauna and flora of hotspots like sea mounts, capacity building on deep-sea taxonomy and genomic studies, development of biodiversity grid, implementation of National Biodiversity Targets, bio-prospecting of deep-sea biota including microbes for sustainable utilization of deep-sea based bio-resources will be focused. The program would involve inventorization of deep-sea fauna and flora through systematic sampling using remotely operated vehicles from seamounts, in the Indian Ocean. The successful implementation of the programme envisions outputs leading to yet another dimensional development in the scientific frontier of modern India through Blue Economy. The implementation of this programme would bring out socially useful and commercially relevant knowledge, processes and technologies developed from the sea. Further this would enable the country to become a trans-national and regional hub for Marine Biology and Biotechnology research.