Asst. Prof. Kusol Pootanakit, Ph.D.
|Ph.D. (Biology), Boston College, USA. 1999
Ext: 1249 (lab); 1467 (office)
Microorganisms are untapped natural resources. They are found everywhere on earth – the highest mountain, the deepest ocean, the driest desert, the most acidic mine runoff, and even the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Only a few percentages of them are harmful to us, the vast majority of them do not cause us any harm, and quite a few of them are even beneficial to our lives and health. One of our main interest is on metagenomics of unique environments, currently the karstic caves. This is because cave is considered an extreme habitat with its dark and nutrient-limiting environment. Thus, novel and beneficial microorganisms should be found therein. Using metagenomics techniques, our laboratory have identified several unique bacteria species found in the Khao Wang Khamen area. Metabolic profiling of such caves also identified potential genes for antibiotics production.
Besides antibiotics, microorganisms are also well known as producers of useful enzymes (phytase, cellulase, endoglucanase, etc.) for use in various industries. Our laboratory, together with people from BIOTEC, through genetic engineering and heterologous expression are looking for ways to produce better and cheaper such enzymes. Additionally, our laboratory have worked or are currently working on other usefulness of microorganisms in the area of bioenergy (better yield of algal triacyglycerol, a precursor to biodiesel) and also as biocontrol agents (entomopathogenic bacteria and fungi).
1. Kanokratana, P., Eurwilaichitr, L., Pootanakit, K. and Champreda, V. (2015) Identification of glycosyl hydrolases from a metagenomic library of microflora in sugarcane bagasse collection site and their cooperative action on cellulose degradation. J Biosci Bioeng. 119(4), 384-391.
2. Phithakrotchanakoon, C., Champreda, V., Aiba, S., Pootanakit, K. and Tanapongpipat, S. (2015) Production of oolyhydroxyalkanoates from crude glycerol using recombinant Escherichia coli. Journal of Polymers and the Environment. 23, 38-44.
3. Chantasingh, D., Kitikhun, S., Keyhani, N., Boonyapakron, K., Thoetkiattikul, H., Pootanakit, K. and Eurwilaichitr, L. (2013) Identification of catalase as an early up-regulated gene in Beauveria bassiana and its role in entomopathogenic fungal virulence. Biological Control 67, 85-93.
4. Chantasingh, D., Kitikhun, S., Eurwilaichitr, L., Uengwetwanit, T. and Pootanakit, K. (2011) Functional expression in Beauveria bassiana of a chitinase gene from Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, an ant-pathogenic fungus. Biocontrol Science and Technology 21, 677 – 686.
5. Fugthong, A., Boonyapakron, K., Sornlek, W., Tanapongpipat, S., Eurwilaichitr, L. and Pootanakit, K. (2010) Biochemical characterization and in vitro digestibility assay of Eupenicillium parvum (BCC17694) phytase expressed in Pichia pastoris. Protein Expression and Purification 70, 60-67.