Biotechnology

Although the discipline of Agricultural Biotechnology was introduced in the institute in 2011 only, the foundations of biotechnology research were laid much earlier. The initial focus of the research programme was twofold- developing a robust regeneration system in tropical maize and providing breeding support activities in form of analyzing maize germplasm using molecular markers. Both the initiatives have paid off handsomely and provided a springboard to further enlarge and strengthen the biotechnology programme. In line with the global trend of enhanced application of genetic engineering and biotechnology in maize improvement, a massive expansion of the programme in terms of facilities and manpower is on the anvil in the 12th Plan. The sanctioned cadre strength of Agricultural Biotechnology has been increased to 5, which would make it the second largest research group of the Institute, after Genetics and Plant Breeding.

Research

1. Unravelling mechanisms of abiotic stress adaptation in maize

Abiotic stresses are major constrains limiting maize productivity in the tropics and the subtropics. We are interested in identifying the fundamental mechanisms and the genetic elements that play important roles in modulating the stress response. We are focussing on three levels of adaptive regulation: (a) ROS homoestasis, (b) Transcriptional reprogramming and (c) the evolving role of chaperones. We are also interested in understanding the interaction of these pathways with the cellular miRNA flux. In collaboration with the Plant Physiology group, our studies have revealed a widespread and differential expression of ROS related genes at the transcript and protein level, indicating a pervasive redox rebalancing under oxidative stress. Our eventual aim is to isolate novel genes and promoters related to these pathways, which would be used to engineer ‘climate ready’ cultivars of maize.

2. Developing stem borer resistant transgenic maize

In collaboration with the Entomology group of the institute, we have perfected a robust transformation system in the tropical maize. We have transformed maize with a synthetic cry1Ab gene and the transformed events are now in the T2 generation. Presently, our major focus is on transgene integration and expression analysis in the advancing generations. We are also interested in the next generation non-Bt strategies for engineering insect resistance employing RNAi technologies.

Academics

Scientists of Biotechnology group constitute core faculty of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute- PG School.

Facilities

The biotechnology laboratory is equipped with all basic facilities necessary for nucleic acid analysis and plant transformation. The laboratory caters to a number of researchers from various groups of the Institute. The following facilities are available in the biotechnology laboratory:

  • Gene gun
  • Realtime PCR Machine
  • Gradient and normal Thermocycler
  • Gel electrophoresis systems
  • Centrifuges
  • Rotary shaker
  • Autoclave
  • Deep freeze and refrigerators
  • Ice machine
  • Laminar hoods
  • Tissue culture racks
  • Transgenic greenhouse

Staff

Name Designation
Dr Pranjal Yadava Scientist and Lab I/c
Ms. Avni Scientist
Dr. Krishna Kumar Scientist
Dr. Alla Singh Scientist

Opportunities

Every year, the Biotechnology lab has been providing training to a limited number of Masters Students for their dissertation work. Queries from doctoral level students with their independent fellowships and desirous to work in the area of maize biotechnology are also welcome. Please contact our Training Cell for the same.