Sanitation Biotechnology is directed towards developing appropriate bacteriophage and similar biocontrol technologies of disinfection catering to the needs of developing nations where poor sanitation causes huge malnutrition problem.

Viruses infecting the bacteria, called bacteriophage (phage), are the most important abundant biological entity in the earth. They have been used for over 90 years as an alternative to antibiotics in the former Soviet Union, east Europe and France.  They are currently being tried as a possible therapy against multi-drug-resistant strains of many bacteria.

We are looking for potential application of bacteriophages and their parts (phage lysins) or recombinant bacterial cell wall hydrolases (Mishra, Nair, et al., 2013) in treating infections. Currently we are targeting gut (enteric) pathogens in waste water. Gut pathogens may include virus (Rotavirus), bacteria (Vibrio cholerae, Shilgella, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus), protists (Giardia, Entamoeba) and helminths (Ascaris, Hymenolepis, Trichuris). We are isolating bacteriophages from different waste water ecosystems and testing their efficacy on quick disinfection of the waste water. Specific interest is to design appropriate safe lytics broadcasting system (LBS) which will be cost effective and simple to be used for public sanitation program. Further, we are exploring other biocontrol agents (bacterial & fungal hydrolases, natural products from plants) which will be potentially cost-effective lytic agents against infection for sanitation purposes.

We are also exploring the possible interaction of phage coat proteins/bacterial cell wall hydrolases with cell matrix ligands such fibronectin, gelatin. Ultimate goal is to develop phage as “probiotic” (Mishra, Ammu, et al., 2013) to treat specific infections causing malnutrition or developing different phage based anti-microbial solutions for sanitation.


Gastrointestinal infections causing malnutrition and child mortality in developing nations

Human GI tract Infections: Rotavirus, Vibrio cholerae, Giardia, Ascaris

Gastro Intestinal Tract Infections, Rotavirus, Ascaris, Giardia, Vibrio Cholerae, Sanitation Biotechnology, Amrita University

Figure: Human Gastrointestinal tract infections caused by different categories of pathogens (Virus, bacteria, protists, helminths) causing malnutrition and child mortality

Possible Solutions:

Viral and other biocontrol agents

Viral and other biocontrol agents: Bacteriophage, Hydrolytic enzymes, Small molecule lysis inducers

Bacteriophages, Hydrolytic Enzymes, Small Molecule Lysis Inducers, Sanitation Biotechnology, Amrita University

Figure: Bacteriophages (Source: Wikipedia), or their lysins and cell wall hydrolases (Büttner, Zoll, Nega, Götz, & Stehle, 2014), small molecule lysis inducer (Kitambi et al., 2014)


  1. Büttner, F. M., Zoll, S., Nega, M., Götz, F., & Stehle, T. (2014). Structure-function analysis of Staphylococcus aureus amidase reveals the determinants of peptidoglycan recognition and cleavage. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.557306
  2. Kitambi, S. S., Toledo, E. M., Usoskin, D., Wee, S., Harisankar, A., Svensson, R., … Ernfors, P. (2014). Vulnerability of Glioblastoma Cells to Catastrophic Vacuolization and Death Induced by a Small Molecule.Cell, 313–328. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.021
  3. Mishra, N., Ammu, S., Amritha, S., Pv, A., Parvanendhu, P., Oj, S., … Pal, S. (2013). Studies on Probiotic Strains from Fermented Foods and Beverages in Kerala. Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications. Amritapuri, Kollam, Kerala, India.
  4. Mishra, N., Nair, R. R., Krishna, A., Ajith, A., Amrutha, V., Dhyuthi, K. S., … Pal, S. (2013). Expression and refolding of recombinant Staphylococcal amidases in E . coli. Proceedings of International Conference on Biotechnology for Innovative Applications. Amritapuri, Kollam, Kerala, India.