• Effect of Bunga Ta'ang essential oil volatile vapour on growth of the plant pathogenic fungus: Ganoderma boninense

    Bunga Ta’ang is the local name of an aromatic herbaceous plant traditionally used by the Bidayuh community in Sarawak to ward off ticks in domestic animals. The essential oil from this plant was screened and shows anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties against a wide range of pathogenic pathogen with varying effectiveness. Ganoderma boninense is a causal agent of basal stem rot (BSR) and upper stem rot (USR), an economic threat to the palm oil industries. The aim of this study is to determine the antifungal activity of the vapour from the essential oil of Bunga Ta’ang on G. boninense.


    The Findings
    This study indicates that the volatile vapour from Bunga Ta'ang essential oil showed strong inhibitory activity on G. boninensissuggesting that the volatile vapour can be used as an effective biological control agent. Further studies are necessary to investigate the specific compound in the essential oil that limit the growth of G. boninense. Whereas, future work on formulation design and field experiments need to be carried out in order to improve the efficacy and stability of the volatile compound as well as to reduce the production cost of compound as fungicides.


    Figure 1: Effect of the volatile vapour from Bunga Ta'ang essential oil on radial mycelial growth of Ganoderma boninense evaluated using vapour-agar contact method. Results shown are average values of mycelium diameter from three replicates.


    Duration Of Exposure


    Figure 2: Antifungal activity of the volatile vapour from Bunga Ta’ang essential oils on Ganoderma boninense (7 days exposure).

    Antifungal Activity




    Mycelium diameter;19 mm

    Unexposed (Control)


    Mycelium diameter ; 90 mm


    The fungistatic activity observed from the volatile vapour suggested that the volatility of the oil’s chemical composition might influence the potency of the antifungal activity.

  • Furfural: From biomass to high value chemical

    Furfural compound structureFurfural, a chemical with $450M worldwide market worth, is a renewable, non-petroleum based chemical used for making resins, lubricants, and as precursor for tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (a green industry solvent).

    Furfural can be produced in the laboratory by acid catalyzed hydrolysis and dehydration of hemicellulose but this conventional method is not effective in energy consumption, cost and yield. Over the past couple of years, different approaches (by solvent and enzymes) have been described in production of high value chemicals and fuel from the renewable biomass resources.

    One of the new platforms available in the market now TRIVERSA PROCESSTM , is introduced by GlucanBio Biorenewables LLC (GlucanBio) located in St. Louis, Missouri USA. This technology delivers cost –disruptive advanced material and biochemicals.

    The technology emphasizes on “no separation, no clean –up and no enzyme required”. It uses solvent, gamma-valeroactone (GVL) that enables the fractionations process of biomass 100 times faster than conventional method, separating the cellulose and the hemicelloluse into two streams which later can be converted into furfural and its co-products such as lignin. The technology can deliver furfural at 35% lower cost than current technology

    empty fruit bunchesTo create a more sustainable economy by using biological resources and biomass waste for various industrial application such as biofuels and natural chemicals, SBC and GlucanBio collaborates to screen biomass wastes from Sarawak which included oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB), Nipah palm, sago pith, and wood chips.

    The best yield of furfural is obtained from EFB. In Sarawak, much of the biomass wastes especially from oil palm industries are still underutilised. Therefore, the collaborative research with GlucanBio will develop a platform which will enhance economic growth for the state through better utilization of biomass and better management of environmental wastes.

  • R&D Bioprospecting

    Sarawak is well-endowed with a diverse wealth of biological resources i.e. biodiversity, that potentially have unique applications in healthcare, agriculture, and industries. Bioprospecting of the biodiversity to discover potential and useful applications very much depends on implementing a highly robust R&D programme involving various scientific tools including biotechnology.


    Biotechnology makes use of knowledge of the biological system to generate useful bio-products and applications for our everyday life such as medicines, food and the environment. Biotechnology and the development of bio-industries has also been earmarked as an engine of growth for the State and country.

    SBC’s R&D Programme focuses on making discoveries in biological resources that would lead to the development of herbal therapies, nutraceuticals, cosmaceuticals for health-care and pharmaceutical drugs for countering diseases such as cancer and infectious agents. The programme also aims to discover chemicals and enzymes from our biological resources that would be useful over a broad range of applications as industrial related products such as essential oils, bio-pesticides and commercial dyes.

    The objectives of this programme are to:

    • continously develop a unique library of natural products from useful plants and microbes
    • screen for anti-cancer, anti-fungal, anti-bacteria, anti-inflammatory and anti-protease compounds from SBC's natural products library
    • isolate and sequence genes from useful microbes that have medicinal and industrial applications
    • develop plant tissue culture capabilities for mass propagation and genetic transformation
    • develop analytical skills for structural determination of bioactive compounds
    • train and develop the State’s human resources in the field of biotechnology
    • attract scientific collaboration and investments from biotech/pharmaceutical companies
    • assist in the development of the bioindustry in the State by providing potential bio-products for commercialization 

    Well-equipped and specialized laboratories

    The R&D Programme is supported 7 well-equipped and specialized laboratories and staffed with trained scientists who work in a conducive environment intended for innovative research.

    SBC's research facilities also provide the State with the means to bioprospect its biodiversity through R&D and share the benefits made from the discoveries with the people. The discoveries will consequently provide a pipeline of bio-products for the bioindustry to jump-start and generate future economical returns and revenues for the State.

  • SBC Microbial Library

    In line with the Natural Product Discovery programme in Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), to date, SBC’s microbial library currently hosts a collection of 11,000 actinomycetes strains and 6,800 fungi strains. Microbial strains are purified, identified and preserved with their bioactivity characterized.

    We have collected a total 2,153 plant and soil samples from 61 locations across Sarawak. Soil microbes occurs in natural and man-made environments; they differ with soil type, pH, vegetation, geographical location and climatic condition. Biological diversity in Sarawak works a surrogate for chemical diversity. Below are images of some beautiful actinomycetes and fungi isolated from samples across Sarawak.