Successful development of crop varieties with improved agronomic traits associated with yield, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance traits will have a great impact on agricultural productivity. However, the current trends in the production of agricultural food crops may not be enough to provide sustainable solutions unless innovative technologies are adopted to meet the growing needs. New breeding technologies such as genome editing by CRISPR/Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR-associated protein) can be harnessed to achieve sustainability in agriculture by modifying target genes precisely. These tools can be used to create crop varieties with desired features for increasing agricultural productivity. Developments in targeted genome editing ensure that the CRISPR components that are used to edit the selected native genes for a desirable trait and the antibiotic resistant gene used for selecting the edited line, can easily be removed by segregation of the plant progeny in the next and subsequent generations. In this way, one can produce transgene-free edited plants that are indistinguishable from plants that can be obtained through conventional breeding.
Vertical Lead: VS Sresty Tavva
Many popular Indica rice cultivars are highly susceptible to insect pests, leading to huge yield losses. One way around it is development of insect pest resistance in high yielding rice cultivars. We undertake CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome editing to generate target mutations in Indica rice lines for increased resistance to insect pests brown planthopper (BPH) and striped stem borer (SSB).
Investigators: Rambabu Ratnala
Rice is one of the most important staple food crops on which most people are dependent on for daily energy consumption. Rice is a water intesnive crop which accounts for more than half of all the fresh water used in agriculture. With increasing water scarcity in agriculture, cultivating rice in the conventional puddled ecosystem is increasingly becoming uneconomical. Therefore, growing rice under non-puddled conditions such as direct seeding and aerobic cultivation save substantial amounts of water. However, infestation with biotic factors like weeds and pathogens diminish the water saving advantage of aerobic cultivation and also reduce productivity under irrigated conditions. Genome editing of appropriate alleles would accelerate the process of generating rice cultivars for target environments. We hypothesise that a combination of herbicide and disease resistance would enhance the performance of rice lines under aerobic and irrigated conditions.
Investigator: VS Sresty Tavva
Collaborators: University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru (UASB)