Genomic research is active and fast catching up in India
A three day workshop on "Genomics of crop Improvement" was held at Institute for Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB), established by Karnataka government with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India at Bangalore. Dr K. VijayaRaghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, inaugurated the workshop, on February 18, which was presided by Dr P. M. Murali, President, Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE) and MD & CEO, Evolva Biotech.
Prof Ronald L. Phillips, Regents Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, USA made a key note address on "Genetic diversity and human capacity building as fundamental for crop improvement." Scientists and experts spoke and discussed on many topics such as Linkage/Association Mapping (Statistical Genetics), Genotyping & Bioinformatics, Genomic/Genetic Resources, Comparative Genomics, Marker-Assisted Selection, Breeding for Stress, Nutrient Efficiency and Biofortification besides other issues as well. More than 100 scientists and several students especially from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Universities actively participated, besides few foreign delegates from Brazil, South Korea, and the USA.
Sharing his thoughts Prof Padmanaban,INSA Senior Scientist, Senior Science and Innovation Advisor, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), Department of Biotechnology, Government of India made it clear that a combination of modern biotechnology tools such as MAS and GM technology are complementary, and are essential for successful development of new cultivars capable of higher productivity and adaptation with fewer inputs.
However, wherever there is no or inadequate variation to use for desired traits (such as resistance to stalk borers in cereals) one need to resort to incorporate alien genomes (such as from universally found soil bacterium, Bacillus yielding Bt. gene that is also used by organic farmers for decades without nay safety issue) as suggested by Swaminathan panel while recommending creation of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India [ BRAI].
Experts at the workshop pointed out that the same DNA science that has revolutionized modern medicine has now been successfully applied to improve crops and develop new varieties with high yield, enhanced resistances to pests, adaptability to adverse environment, and superior product quality. Decoding of genetic information stored in all genes of an organism - commonly called genomics- has allowed discovery of novel genes responsible for specific valuable traits useful to increase crop improvement.