Bioenergy and soil ecosystems are the main research areas investigated in this project with sub projects in each category. The project commenced its activities in 2009 specially focussing on biofuel research. In 2010 the research activities were expanded to study soil C sequestration and management in different vegetation types of Sri Lanka. The bioenergy project aims to explore the microbial flora of Sri Lanka to isolate efficient degraders of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, study the effect of biofilms and/or co-cultures on the degradation of cellulosic biomass. The application of microbial cellulases in other value added products and processes are also under investigation. The project also aims to study possible enhancement of enzyme production by application of different induces. Research on biodiesel production from freshwater cyanobacteria and microalgae is another area under investigation. Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District is also under investigation. The project on soil C sequestration targets to study soil C sequestration potential, its dynamics and the method of improvement in different major vegetation types of Sri Lanka including natural and plantation forests, agricultural plantations, farmlands, home gardens and smallholder cultivations etc. The studies conducted so far by our group are among the few studies reported so far on soil C sequestration in Sri Lanka. Attempts have been initiated now to study C sequestration capacity of lowland paddy soils and to prepare a digital map showing the available C stocks in paddy soils of Sri Lanka.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS:
- Microbial Cellulases: The Application of Biofuel production and other value added products and processes
- Biodiesel production from freshwater cynobacteria
- Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District.
- Land use and soil C sequestration in North Sri Lanka
- Assessment and Mapping of Soil C Stocks in Knuckles Forest Region of Sri Lanka.
- Development of baseline soil information system for soil C and other nutrients for paddy growing soils in Sri Lanka
Microbial Cellulases and their application in Biofuel production and other value added products and processes
The project explores the microbial flora of Sri Lanka to isolate efficient degraders of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, study the effect of biofilms and/or co-cultures on degradation of cellulosic biomass. The present project also aims to study possible enhancement of enzyme production by the formation of co-cultures or biofilm formation.
The enzymes produced by these microorganisms, cellulases are capable of biodegrading lignocellulose. Therefore, apart from the main focus on biofuel production, these strains will be tested for diverse applications in the industry such as Textile industry, Laundry, and detergent, Food and animal feed, Paper and pulp industry etc.
Biodiesel production from fresh water cynobacteria
Algae biomass is a potential source of 3rd generation biofuel that could surpass all the others due to its rapid growth and extremely high yield potential. Therefore, the aims and goals of the present study are: Morphological identification of cyanobacteria and other algae in freshwater bodies of Sri Lanka as a suitable feed stock for biodiesel production, Optimizing semi-mass culturing of selected cyanobacteria and other algal species, Isolating the other algal products and value added compounds of commercial interest from the residue of algal biomass, Extraction of fatty acids from selected cyanobacteria and other algal species, Producing bio diesel from extracted lipids.
Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District.
Nitrate contamination of groundwater is becoming a serious problem in Jaffna. There has been little research reported on remediation of such pollution except for few phytoremediation studies. The aims of the present study are to utilized denitrifying bacteria isolated locally from different sources such as paddy soils, wastewater etc for nitrate nitrogen removal from good water of Jaffna.
Land use and soil C sequestration in North Sri Lanka
Most field research programs associated with agriculture have attempted to sequester soil C primarily, by enhancing biomass inputs by tillage and residue management. Though the studies are lacking in the tropics fertilizer management could also play a role in C sequestration of agricultural soils. C sequestration and post-sequestration losses are reported to be influenced by clay and silt concentrations and microbial activity. Therefore more research is needed, especially for the tropics, to capture the impact of region-specific interactions between climate, soil, and management of resources on C sequestration, which is lost in global level assessments. The objectives of this study were to quantify and compare the available soil nutrients, soil texture, and structural stability under different agricultural land use practices in Northern Sri Lanka and to assess their effects on the organic carbon fractions. The result will help to understand the behavior of soils in the tropics and manage them effectively.
Assessment and Mapping of Soil C Stocks in Knuckles Forest Region of Sri Lanka
Spatially distributed estimates and mapping of soil organic carbon status are important requirements for understanding the role of soil in the global carbon cycle and also for assessing potential environmental responses to climatic changes. Forest soils play an important role due to the large area involved in regional and global scale. Knuckles Man and Biosphere Reserve is a tropical forest ecosystem situated in the South Asian Region. This study aimed at assessing and mapping the potential of soil carbon sequestration in different vegetation types of Knuckles Forest Region (KFR) by using GIS software.
Development of baseline soil information system for soil C and other nutrients for paddy growing soils in Sri Lanka
Mapping distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) has given much attention due to its link to soil health and as a way to offset the rising levels of greenhouse gases by means of long term storage carbon in soils. In this study, we explore the drivers of SOC contents in paddy growing soils of Sri Lanka and subsequently carry out digital mapping of SOC contents.