Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Wednesday agreed upon to extend the existing collaborative research programmes with India as well as to initiate new programmes in the fields of marine robotics, global navigation systems and microbial biotechnology as he led a high-level delegation of Portuguese officials to the Oceanography headquarters of India.
Under another MoU between CSIR-NIO and Space & Earth Geodetic Analysis Laboratory (SEGAL), University of Beira Interior (UBI), Covilhã and InstitutoGeofísicoInfante D Luíz (IDL), Lisbon signed in January, 2012, a Global navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver has been established in NIO and a sea level gauge installed at Dona Paula jetty which are being used for monitoring crustal motions in order to derive absolute or climate related signals in mean sea level.
Joint research between NIO and University of Azores on microbial biodiversity and biotechnology of hydrothermal vents has shown that bacterial isolates were able to tolerate high concentration of heavy metals like Mn, Fe and Sulphur and could synthesise more than 15 enzymes which are of industrially important. It is proposed that this research will be extended for molecular and mechanistic comparison on the role of gill endosymbiont bacteria in immune responses of the deep sea hydrothermal vent mussels.
The Portuguese delegation was shown the autonomous underwater vehicle as well as the autonomous vertical profiler developed at NIO, of which some of the control systems were designed in collaboration with Institute for Systems and Robotic, Lisbon, Portugal. It was pointed out by NIO Director, Dr Prasanna Kumar that the collaboration has not only resulted in developing new technologies for oceanographic research that have led to filing of joint patents and commercialisation of the products for industrial applications but also in offering internships to Indian students as well as conducting an annual ocean robotics course for engineers from various institutes in India.
Costa highlighted the cultural and scientific exchange with India and expressed keen interest in extending the joint research programmes between NIO and Portuguese research institutions, and he assured his support in order to improve our understanding of the oceanographic processes and utilisation of its resources. Besides Costa and Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education Manuel Heitor, the high-level delegation also included Ambassador of Portugal in India, João da Câmara, Consul General of Portugal in Goa, Rui Baceira, Chief of Staff of Prime Minister, Rita Faden, President of Council of Rectors of Portuguese Universities, António Cunha, Diplomatic Advisor Prime Minister, Bernardo Lucena and researcher at Institute For Systems and Robotics, Luis Sebastião.