Rotten pomegranate can be used to produce bacterial cellulose: Discovered

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Bacteria from this rotten fruit can be used to produce huge amount of bacterial cellulose (Representational image)
Bacteria from this rotten fruit can be used to produce huge amount of bacterial cellulose (Representational image)

New Delhi : Now, when you have rotten pomegranate then do not dump it as waste. Confused! Yes, the researchers at the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) say that bacteria from this rotten fruit can be used to produce huge amount of bacterial cellulose. 

It is known to all that plants produce cellulose, an abundant biopolymer in the world, which is used for paper and pulp production. A new study reveals that there are certain bacteria which can also produce cellulose. Bacterial cellulose has better physicochemical properties such as crystallinity, tensile strength, moldability and larger surface area, since they are devoid of lignin and hemicelluloses material. These characteristics make them suitable for biotechnological and biomedical applications like bone and tissue scaffold material, wound dressing material and even as a drug delivery agent.

Ideally, a bacterium named Komagataeibacterxylinus is used for producing bacterial cellulose. This year itself, its genome was completely sequenced which aimed at understanding the cellulose production process. The bacterium and its strains produce good quality bacterial cellulose. But, the output is low as compared to the cost of production which is high, making it unfavourable for large scale production.

Scientists in Pune then screened different rotten fruits such as dragon fruit, mango, orange, lime, banana and fig for alternative cellulose producing bacteria and cultured the munder laboratory conditions. They isolated a bacterium called K. rhaeticus PG2 from rotten pomegranate which showed promising results.

The team studied the feasibility for large scale production from the isolated strain using different carbon sources like fructose, lactose, sorbitol, glycerol, etc. in the standard media. They reported that the highest production was possible when glycerol was used as a carbon source.

“It normally costs Rs. 60 to produce approximately 9 grams of bacterial cellulose using standard media. However, the strain we have found can give the same output using waste glycerol in the media as carbon source for less than Rs.15,” said Syed G Dastager, leader of the research team.

The results of the study have been published in journal RSC Advances.