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Agricultural Biotechnology - Crops

In a project to identify, map and transfer desirable alleles at QTLs for yield and yield components and stability and also to generate QTL bear isogenic lines of rice, and agronomic evaluation of BC2F4 Near Isogenic Introgressions lines (NIILs) as many as 200 BC2F5 progenies were evaluated for the second consecutive year during summer 2006 in multi-location trials. A new triticale line involving Himalayan rye and indigenous wheat genotypes has been synthesized to be further utilized as a diverse source for obtaining certain important wheat-rye translocations. In project on functional genomics of rice aiming at discovery and functional validation of genes, novel genes conferring bacterial blight (BLB) resistance have been discovered in accessions of wild species like,

  • Longistarminata
  • Nivara
  • glaberrima
  • barthii

land race accession Ac32753 and a few mutant lines of IR64. Gall midge resistance genes Gm 1 and Gm4 are being fine mapped to within 10cM of 2 MB region of the genome. In the network project on programme on development of Salinity and dehydration stress tolerance in rice, a gene encoding fructose 1, 6 bisphosphate was cloned to full length from Portresia (PCFR) and this enzyme was found to be active in the presence of NaCl. In the project on multi-site Evaluation of Transgenic Mustard (DMH-11) based on barnase-barstar system, the National Research Centre of Rapeseed-Mustard, Bharatpur conducted these trials along with four checks, viz. CMS based hybrid (DMH-1), National Checks (Varuna and Kranti) and a zonal check, at 10 locations during the year 2006.

It was observed that higher yield of DMH-11 over the best check variety was recorded in 6 out of 9 locations. In the project on development of Transgenics Cotton for Resistance to Insect Pests, around 300 independent transgenics lines in cotton (Coker 310-FR) carrying the cry 1Ac gene for attaining resistance to Helicoverpa armigera developed. In most of the transgenics the cry1Ac gene is under the control of the double enhancer CaMV 35S promoter. Improvements have also been made in the transformation protocol of cotton which allows the use of Imidazolinone as a selection agent instead of kanamycin by using a double mutant acetolactate synthase gene as marker.

Biofertilisers

With growing environmental concerns, the sole dependence on chemical inputs based agriculture is being replaced by integrated approach involving conjunctive use of both organic and inorganic sources. In this context, biofertilizers have been well accepted as an economical, cost effective, renewable and safe organic source of plant nutrients to sustain crop productivity. Moreover, with recent focus on organic/bio-dynamic farming, the demand of biofertilizers is likely to grow at a much faster rate than before. At this juncture, we must realize that microbial inoculants are 'ecological inputs', whose effects are 'subtle and not dramatic' like chemical inputs.

Hence, inoculation with good quality inoculants is a must and should be treated as an insurance against failure of nodulation. The shelf life both in the store and transit needs to be improved with due consideration to various 'abiotic' stresses. The quality-oriented production and marketing network will certainly make biofertilizers a viable enterprise for ultimate customer satisfaction. Keeping these in view, programmes on development of liquid biofertilizers and biofertilizers-based Integrated Nutrient management packages for plantation crops and medicinal plants have been generated. In addition biofertilizers strains developed through transgenosis will be evaluated in contained conditions.

Biopesticides and Crop Management

The programme is directed towards the management of pests, diseases and weeds of economically important crops as well as development of commercially viable mass production technologies. A number of potent and cost effective methods of biological pest control were successfully developed. Formulations were prepared and tested successfully against viral and fungal infections of various crops. Genetic improvement of various species of entomopathogenic nematodes for enhanced efficacy and tolerance to environment, e.g. temperature etc. was achieved and found to be effective against insect pest of pigeon pea, rice stem borer, gram pod borer, cardamom root grub, sucking pests of cotton etc. Conservation and augmentation of two predators, viz. Dipha aphidivora and Microuns igorotus was achieved, which suppressed sugarcane wooly aphid populations. Pheromones were found to be quite effective against various species of bollworm, viz. pomegranate fruit borer and sucking moths of sweet orange.

Pheromones dispensers, suitable for Indian conditions were also developed. Insecticidal toxin genes of various plant species and various novel bacterial strains are being done to develop a potent biopesticides formulation. The multi centric programme on the management of Parthenium launch to control the weed and for its possible economic potential is progressing well. At the initiative of DBT, guidelines for registration of biopesticides have been simplified and streamlined. In order to promote and facilitate the commercialisation of biopesticides, 10 biopesticides have been taken up for generation of toxicological data, both for primary cultures as well as for their formulations. A comprehensive website on "Bio-pesticides" has been developed which highlights the achievements made in major programmes supported by the Department on biological control of pests, disease and weeds.

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Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 09-02-2011