Team:NIT Warangal/Description

iGEM NIT_Warangal



Cotton seeds are known to be highly nutritious and contain proteins, fats and fibres. Despite its high nutritional value, the cotton seeds are not recommended for direct consumption for non-ruminant/small ruminant animals. This is due to the presence of a toxic phenolic compound known as gossypol, produced by the pigment glands in cotton stems, leaves, seeds, and flower buds. The seeds contain 0.002-6.6% gossypol on a dry weight basis and exhibit adverse effects on livestock growth and reproduction. On direct consumption, free-gossypol is transferred to edible tissues including, muscle and offal of ruminants, poultry, and fish. The molecule also passes on into eggs and dairy products, and therefore causes respiratory distress, anorexia, and infertility.

There have been many instances of poisoning in livestock and domestic animals due to the presence of gossypol in cotton seeds. This poisoning has led to the failure of reproductive organs and respiratory distress, not only in cattle but also in human beings. Considering this problem, our primary aim was to prevent livestock-poisoning by degossypolizing the cottonseed meal (CSM) using a tailor-made enzyme for this purpose.

"Our enzyme" will bind with gossypol and convert it into a non-toxic compound, thereby degossypolizing the CSM. This meal can benefit various farmers, livestock, and humans. In addition,the cotton industries will also profit from the process and allow them to be a part of the food industry in the long run. The stakeholders who shall benefit from this are:

Farmer and their cattle

Farmers use the CSM to feed their livestock on a regular basis. However, as mentioned above, gossypol is deteriorative to the health of the cattle. After degossypolization, the cattle will be primarily benefited since all harmful products in the CSM shall be detoxified. Moreover, the farmers will be directly benefited too, as the degossypolized CSM will provide more protein/gram to the livestock. This process will drastically reduce the quantity of feed required and in turn decrease the financial burden on them.

Cotton Industry

The cotton industry will experience a boom in their sales as the demand for CSM will increase with increasing consumption of CSM. Cotton gin trash, cottonseed hulls, and cotton textile mill waste will also have potential economic benefits, especially to producers located near cotton and cottonseed processing facilities.

Food and Consumption Industry

In the present-day scenario, about 11 people die per minute due to hunger and starvation. With an increase in gross population every year, it will not be long before we face a food scarcity situation. The degossypolized CSM can be a potential solution to this emerging issue as degossypolized CSM is fit for consumption by humans too. The product will be affordable for the common man since the CSM is a by-product in the industry and our enzymatic process is cost-effective. Eventually, this brings increasing food security and benefits to the food and consumption industries.

Oil Industry

Cottonseed oil is hesitantly used as salad oil, frying medium for commercial goods and as an ingredient in cakes, chocolates and biscuits. Apart from its nutritional value, cotton seeds house high content of vitamin E and omega 6, which leads to reduced inflammation, lowers the risk of heart disease, improves the brain function and boosts immunity. We strongly believe that after degossypolization, the related industries would be able to use the cotton seed oil as a daily consumption oil.

Biodiesel Industry

The crude glycerol is a major by-product in the biodiesel industries and accounts for 10% (w/v) of the total production of biodiesel. Crude glycerol is often dumped into the environment because of its low value. In order to develop a cost-effective and environmentally safe process, we utilize crude glycerol as a carbon source for the production of gossypol-degrading enzymes. We have designed our project in such a manner that it justifies the circular economy concept and provides a solution for problems associated with cotton seed as well as biodiesel industries.

We have identified various enzymes which can bind with gossypol, after thoroughly studying its structure. By screening for the enzymes from various families like reductases, cytochromes, and laccases, we discovered the optimal enzyme that can bind with gossypol. This enzyme can change the functional nature of gossypol by neutralizing its toxicity. Ultimately, the cost effective process will lead to the production of non-toxic CSM and cottonseed oil and also benefit several industries as well.