Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology was founded in 1975 and it comprises two units: Biochemistry and Microbiology. A course in General Biochemistry was first read in 1962 by Prof. Ivan Popov in the Department Organic Chemistry and course in Microbiology – by Prof. Milen Beshkov in the department of General Biology. The firs head of separate department of Biochemistry and Microbiology was Assoc. Prof. Nikola Yanev.
The laboratories and equipment of the department were constantly enriched. Additional specific courses were developed and currently the department members offer to all of students from both educational degrees “Bachelor” and “Master” at Biological Faculty more than 25 theoretical and practical courses. Currently, the department employs a professor, PhD; 4 Associate professors PhDs, 6 Chief Assistant Professors PhDs, 2 expert-biologists.
A Microbial Culture Collection was established in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, with more than 200 different species of bacteria, actinomycetes, yeasts and molds. It includes a large number of reference strains, clinical and food microbial isolates, enzyme producers, producers of antibiotics and other biologically active substances. The strains were isolated and identified in the department. The collection has been maintained and enriched actively more than 35 years.
Biotechnology is the crossing point of present-day biological sciences and modern technologies for increasing of life quality and environmental conservation. Undoubtedly Microbial biotechnologies, which are based on the microbial biocatalysis, occupy the leading place in this priority scientific direction. The Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology is one of the leading educational and research units in the Biological faculty and our country in the sphere of microbial enzymology, biocatalysis, microbial monitoring and possibilities for control of virulence factors of pathogenic and sanitary-hygienic microorganisms by application of natural biologically active substances. The mission of department of Biochemistry and Microbiology is to provide highly qualified academic stuff and laboratory equipment, which guarantee the high quality education of the students in accordance with world modern educational practices. In addition one of the major goals of the department members is to carry out high quality scientific researches and establishment of conditions for transfer of knowledge and technologies among Biological faculty and other educational and research centers in Bulgaria and abroad.
The academic members of the department are gathered into several research groups, which are focused on the following priority research areas of European science: Microbial enzymology, Applied biocatalysis, Food quality and safety, Health biotechnologies and Ecological biotechnologies.
Specific research topics:
- Isolation, identification and characteristics of microbial producers of lipases and glucosyltransferases from Family Bacillaceae, Psedomonadaceae, Lactobacillaceae and other;
- Optimization of fermentation conditions, isolation, purification and characteristics of microbial lipases and glucosyltransferases;
- Enzyme biotransformation and application of oligosaccharides with prebiotic and immune modulating activities;
- Microbiological monitoring, isolation and identification of sanitary-hygienic and pathogenic microorganisms from water ecosystems and foods. Study on the mechanisms of bacterial spoilage caused by psychrotrophic bacteria belonging to Genera Pseudomonas;
- Study on the virulence factors of bacteria belonging to Family Enterobacteriaceae and yeasts belonging to Genus Candida, associated with urinary tract infections and mucosal infections;
- Antimicrobial activity of natural biologically active substances, isolated form medicinal and aromatic plants against sanitary-hygienic and pathogenic microorganisms and study of possibilities for their application;
- Ecological biotechnologies for water purification by microbial biosorptiion of heavy metals and possibilities for development of innovative microbial and plant fuel cells.