We have established successful, long-term biochemistry and biotechnology research efforts in the areas of bioremediation, food biotechnology, biomaterials, and biofuels with the goal of environmental protection and obeying the principles of green chemistry, good engineering, and good biotechnology practices. We have participated in the design, development and marketing of several products declared winners of technological innovation challenges. Our research is organized within several areas:
Microbiological chemistry and biotechnology research is conducted by professors and researchers of the Department of Chemistry and Faculty of Chemistry – University of Belgrade. Research began with the late Professor Jovan Vučetić in 1964. Current principal investigator is Prof Dr. Miroslav M. Vrvić.
- isolation and characterization of microorganisms
- production and characterization of biologically active substances of microbial origin (antibiotics, polysaccharides, enzymes, biosurfactants)
- development of new infant formulas with special properties (bifidogenic effect, antioxidant activity)
- study and application of thionic bacteria acting on sulfide substrates
- biodegradation and biotransformation of oil carbohydrates and halogenated organic compounds
- application of bioremediation to eliminate toxic environmental pollutants
- ecotoxicology (Aliivibrio fisheri, Daphnia magna); biodegradability assays
Experimental biochemistry, enzymology and biotechnology research (principal investigator: Prof Vujčić) focuses on hydrolases and oxidoreductases and their applications in biotechnology. These enzymes are secreted naturally or obtained in recombinant form by genetically modifying fungi and bacteria. As hydrolases and oxidoreductases are the main enzyme classes in biomass processing, we focus on producing, purifying, characterizing and improving these enzymes, in order to achieve sustainable and balanced biomass conversion processes. Innovative enzymatic solutions improve on efficient biomass exploitation, and could enable a transition to a bio-based economy, by offering eco-friendly technologies for producing biofuels, valuable chemicals, and biomass-based materials. Discovery and characterization of new enzymes and enzymatic processes offers a foundation for developing enzymatic technologies to improve the use of renewable agro industrial and industrial waste resources.
- Bacillus licheniformis amylase digesting concentrated raw starch (a new development in the field of starch-based bio-ethanol production)
- Production of industrially important enzymes from Trichoderma and Aspergillus spp. for bio ethanol and nutritional fibers production
- Development of methods for identifying enzymes in mixtures of microbial origin
- Enzyme stabilization using protein engineering, immobilization on inert solid supports, and chemical modifications
- Tracking DNA-interactions of small molecules using spectrofluorimetric and electrophoretic techniques
- Study of laccases and peroxidases removing phenolic compounds and dyes from waste water; application in degradation of lignin
Prof. Radivoje Prodanović is the principal investigator for research in evolution of lignocellulitic enzymes, including cellobiose dehydrogenase, cellulases, and lignin and manganese peroxydases. Cellobiose dehydrogenase is an oxido-reductase participating in degradation of lignin components alongside lignin and manganese peroxidase. Cellulases degrade cellulose to cellobiose, a substrate for cellobiose dehydrogenase. Directed evolution of these enzymes to obtain mutants with increased substrate affinity and overall stability is our main goal. In addition, the research includes high-throughput screening and protein engineering.