Azolla has been used as a biofertilizer for decades, on irrigated rice fields of Asia. However, there are many more uses for Azolla, especially Azolla pinnata. Azolla and the microorganisms that live in symbioses inside fronds, are useful in climate change, phytoremediation and keeping the environment clean of pollutants. Azolla due to its rapid growth, is earmarked as one of the key organisms for battling climate change, in its function, as a carbon sink.

Our main areas of research are,

  1. Isolation and characterization of cyanobionts in Azolla pinnata 
  2. Checking for the phytoremediation potential of Azolla pinnata at the laboratory and field level
  3. Characterization of genes coding for Vanadium nitrogenases in isolated cyanobionts
  4. Investigating how Azolla pinnata can be an environmental solution to CKDu.
  5. Assessing how versatile Azolla pinnata is, as a greenhouse gas sink, in relation to, and outside of, carbon fixation.
  6. To study the potential of Azolla pinnata in industrial ponds to remediate industry-derived effluents.

We have these papers/conference proceedings published, or presently under review in peer-reviewed journals (A selected coverage of articles from my lab)

  1. Gunawardana, D., and Herath, V. (2022). A Hypothesis on How the Azolla Symbiosis Mitigates Nitrous Oxide Based on In Silico Analyses. J 5, no. 1: 166-185. https://doi.org/10.3390/j5010013
  2. Gunawardana, D.  An in silico Study of Two Transcription Factors Controlling Diazotrophic Fates of the Azolla Major Cyanobiont Trichormus azollae. Bioinformatics and Biology Insights. January 2020. doi:10.1177/1177932220977490 [Impact factor  1.31]
  3. Gunawardana, D. (2019) An Exploration of Common Greenhouse Gas Emissions by the Cyanobiont of the Azolla–Nostoc Symbiosis and Clues as to Nod Factors in Cyanobacteria. Plants8, 587. [Impact factor – 2.6]
  4. Pushpakumara, B.L.D.U, Gunawardana, D. (2018) Preliminary data on the presence of an alternate vanadium nitrogenase in a culturable cyanobiont of Azolla pinnata: Implications on CKDu. Data in Brief, 21, pp.2590-2597. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2018.11.073
  5. Atugoda D.R.A.M.T.R, Mandakini L.L.U, Bandara N.J.G.J., Gunawardana, D. (2018) How a taxonomically-ambiguous cyanobiont and vanadate assist in the phytoremediation of cadmium by Azolla pinnata: implications for CKDu. Environment and Pollution 7(1) 53-65.
  6. Phylogeny of Two Heterocyst-Differentiation Mediator Proteins (HetF and PatA) in Cyanobionts and free-living Cyanobacteria and their accelerated evolution in Anabaena azollae (2019). Gunawardana D. (Accepted as a 15 Minutes Presentation) – 21st Symposium of the International Association of Cyanophyte/Cyanobacteria Research, Brisbane, Australia.
  7.  Gene Synteny Analyses of key Nitrogen-Fixation associated Operons (nif, devBCA and coxBAC) in Symbiotic and Free-living Cyanobacteria (2019) Herath V., Gunawardana D. (Accepted as a 15 Minutes Presentation) – 21st Symposium of the International Association of Cyanophyte/Cyanobacteria Research, Brisbane, Australia.
  8. Pushpakumara, B.L.D.U, Gunawardana D. (2018) A fresh perspective on the Major versus Minor Cyanobiont hypothesis in Azolla: The isolation of the first subsection V cyanobiont, from fronds of Azolla pinnata R. Brown. (Under Review)