Microbial diversity is enormous. However only 1-5% of it has been believed to be characterized so far, indicating most of the diversity remains to be studied and cultured in vitro. This is to be done within the limitations imposed by limited accessibility to niche area and problems associated with micro-environmental conditions of microbes (e.g. specific growth conditions). Microbes have tremendous industrial applications and thus deserve considerable attention regarding their polyphasic characterization and ex situ conservation before their possible extinction. AT MTCC, we explore different biodiversity hotspots of India and screen selected microbial isolates for possible applications in biotechnology as well as for understanding their role in ecological structure and function. Selected ecological niches are also examined by metagenomic approaches for screening of enzymes, metabolites and bioactive molecules etc.
As an example, complete genome sequencing and analysis of pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria of plants are being investigated to glean insights into the origin and evolution of pathogenicity in plants. In addition, microbial communities associated with diverse plant sources are being studied using metagenomics/genomics approaches in order to understand micro and macro evolutionary dynamics of plant symbionts, commensals and pathogens with their hosts.