Fifty years ago the green revolution in India made the country self-sufficient in food. With increasing population in country and demand for more nutrition, there is a need for another green revolution for increasing the yield of crop plants. The sequencing of genomes of crops such as tomato, potato and rice opened new vistas for the improvement of crop for higher yield, better nutrition and disease/pest resistance. The genome technologies are now accelerating the process of genetic variations in genome.
Since the inception of agriculture the beneficial genetic variations were selected for improving crop yields. The green revolution in early sixties was a classical example for selection and combination of desirable variations in wheat and rice for better yield. The genomics assisted breeding now allows precisely selection of variations in genes related to crop yield and transfer of these variations to local cultivars.
At Repository of Tomato Genomics Resources, University of Hyderabad, one such genomics technique TILLING ((Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) has been adopted for tomato. The TILLING accelerates the identification of genetic variations in crops and has enormous potential to improve the crop yield. In many countries TILLING has been used to improve the traits in crops such as maize, tomato, wheat, potato and rice. Being a non-GMO the high yielding plants identified by TILLING are exempt from regulatory certification.
For wider dissemination of TILLING to other crop plants, University of Hyderabad and Dept of Biotechnology are conducting a 12-days National training workshop on TILLING which is on at the campus till April 24, 2015. The workshop was inaugurated by Prof. E Haribabu Vice-Chancellor of University of Hyderabad. Speaking on the occasion Prof AR Reddy, a distinguished Plant Biotechnologist and former Vice Chancellor of Yogi Vemana University described how combination of genomics with molecular breeding have improved crop traits with much higher yield and disease resistance.
Prof RP Sharma, Convener of workshop informed how TILLING is used in tomato to improve the traits like fruit quality and post-harvest shelf life. He informed that workshop is imparting hands on training to Scientists working in different crops to applying this technology to improvement of their crops. Using TILLING researchers can develop a new crop variety in two years. Starting from University of Hyderabad in tomato, TILLING is now being adopted in wheat and rice in India. Dr. Meenakshi Munshi, Director, DBT, New Delhi outlined how DBT has been supporting programs on plant biotechnology in India. The funding of TILLING workshop is one such initiative of DBT for adoption of genomics related methods for crop improvement.
– Prof RP Sharma, Department of Plant Sciences