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More new microorganisms found in GotjawalProvince looks to increase patenting to add value to Jeju's industries
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승인 2014.07.23  15:03:29
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▲ Jeju's Gotjawal looks to be a storehouse of genetic diversity particularly below the soils after more microorganisms discovered. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province

Over 100 new microorganisms have been found in Jeju’s Gotjawal after the results of year-long research by Jeju province were released on July 11. Out of a total of 315 microorganisms identified in soil and underground air pockets, 119 are new discoveries.

The species add to the discovery of Variibacter Gotjawalensis in Aewol in April which suggests that Jeju is home to a rich variety of microorganisms. The unique climate and ecosystem of Jeju is thought to have encouraged differentiation of microorganisms on the island and these are expected to be highly profitable for science-based industries.

The local government is thus undertaking a four-year 125-million won project until 2017 to identify additional microorganisms and to seek means of developing high value-added industries around Jeju’s microorganic resources. Furthermore, in order to prevent the export of Jeju’s unique microorganisms, there are plans to introduce new conservation laws as exist for other natural resources.

Korea currently has 21 domestic microorganism patents which are used in areas such as treating livestock odor and livestock wastewater treatment. This is relatively low compared to the US which has 79 patents for agriculture and 51 in bioenergy. Japan has 76 for livestock farming and 49 in agriculture. Europe and China are also actively researching further patents.

A local official said: “Henceforth, the industrialisation of Jeju soil microorganisms can be used to add value to the water, agriculture and livestock industries, demonstrating the value of Jeju’s native life.”

The microorganisms could be commercialized in areas such as food, livestock and organic waste decomposition and deodorizing and also in bio-energy production. Probiotic microrbial agents could also add value to local primary industries through crop growth, pest control or quality control or for combating soil and river pollution caused by pesticides, for example.

By securing the rights to the microorganisms, the province hopes the competitiveness of local industries can be boosted by exploiting indigenous biological resources. To establish and manage a central research institute into Jeju’s native beneficial microorganisms, the experience of other regions suggests 22 billion won will be needed.

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