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Seminar/ Colloquium

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Biotechnology in Crop Improvement


Title : Biotechnology in Crop Improvement.
Speaker : Prof. Ramesh Sonti, Director, National Institute of Plant Genome Research, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi.
Date : 29/01/2020, 5:30 PM , C.V Raman Hall, Second Floor.


Transgenesis and Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) are two major biotechnological tools for crop improvement. Transgenesis involves transfer of an isolated piece of DNA from a test tube into a plant cell. On the other hand, MAS is an extension of traditional plant breeding wherein variations in DNA sequences are used as flag posts to make selections of varieties that have new and advantageous combinations of genes. The advantages and disadvantages of each of these techniques for crop improvement will be discussed.

The presentation will cover our collaborative work with the Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad, on development of a rice variety that is resistant to bacterial blight as a case study on how MAS can be gainfully used for crop improvement. This variety, called Improved Samba Mahsuri is in commercial cultivation. The availability of the rice genome sequence has led to molecular mapping and tagging of a number of other genes that control agronomically important traits such as tolerance to flooding, drought, fungal diseases, insect pests, etc. These genes are also being used to further improve Ímproved Samba Mahsuri.

In addition, a mutagenized population of the elite rice variety Samba Mahsuri has been developed and used to isolate mutants that exhibit enhanced tolerance to yellow stem borer, a serious insect pest of rice and sheath blight, a serious fungal disease of rice. The plans for further characterization of these mutants and the manner in which they can be used to extend the scope of MAS will be discussed.

Finally, the presentation will touch upon the convergence of technologies such as mutagenesis and genomics assisted mapping technologies as well as genome editing to further the advantages and significantly reduce the disadvantages associated with either marker-assisted selection or transgenic technologies. These new technologies will significantly enhance our capabilities for developing new crop varieties to meet the challenges of agriculture in the twenty-first century.