Research Achievements

A. Genomics and Bioinformatics
The advent of modern platforms for omics-based research and application development provide crucial resources to promote research in crop plants. The integrated use of these platforms and their outcomes is now an effective means to understand the molecular systems which provide the basis for improvement in the productivity of crops. Comparative genomics on the other hand allows us to accelerate gene discovery and functional analyses of genes in crop plants taking advantage of the studies made in model species. Bioinformatics platforms and their associated databases are also essential for the effective design of approaches making the best use of genomic resources, including resource integration. Two research projects are currently being undertaken at the institute under the major program “Genomics and Bioinformatics”.

1. Identification and characterization of drought-responsive genes in wild chickpea (Cicermicrophyllum)

rc

Figure (A) Cicermicrophyllum growing naturally in the cold desert of Lahaul and Spiti, (B) In vitro germinated seedling of C. microphyllum, (C) In vitro germinated seedling grown in the pot containing vermiculite.

2. Identification of genes/QTLs for heat tolerance in lentil

Lentil (Lens culinaris) is an important pulsecrop grown and consumed in India. It is grownin the post-rainy season on residual moisture.Intermittent drought throughout the crop seasonand terminal drought and heat are common tothis crop. This project envisages to integrategenomics and genetic mapping approaches toidentify genes/QTLs conferring terminal heattolerance in lentil. Based on thorough review ofliterature suitable heat tolerant and susceptiblegenotypes of lentil have been identified and arein the process of procurement.

B. Translational Research for Crop Improvement

Modern molecular tools offer unprecedented opportunities to rapidly identify functionally relevant genes/QTLs in crop plants. These genes/QTLs can now be easily introgressed into the crop plants through various genomics-assisted breeding approaches. In this endeavor, following three projects are being undertaken for the marker-assisted convergence of known QTLs for drought and phosphorus uptake, and identification of new genes/QTLs for phosphorus use efficiency and zinc homeostasis in rice.

1. Introgression of genes/QTLs for drought tolerance and efficient phosphorus uptake in rice using MAS

rks

Figure Drought affected rice crop, and Rice population segregating for Pup 1

2. Identification and functional characterization of genes/QTLs responsible for Zinc homeostasis in rice.

rks1

FigureRice crop showing Zn deficiency

3. Identification and mapping of novel genes/QTLs for phosphorus uptake and use efficiency in rice

rks2

FigureRice accessions showing differential responseunder P deficient condition

c. Biotechnological Interventions for Fish Health Management

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector accounting for almost 50 percent of the world’s fish production. The global aquaculture production reached 62.7 million tons in 2011 and is expected to reach 79 million tons by 2021. Due to increased demand, the culture systems are getting intensified which is leading to incidence of several diseases caused by bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites. Thus a major research program pertaining to fish health management through biotechnological interventions has been initiated at the institute with following four sub-projects:

1. Development of nanoparticle based recombinant protein oral vaccine for Indian major carps against Aeromonashydrophila

rks3

FigureThe flow diagram explains the details of the project

2. Molecular characterization and functional analysis of antimicrobial peptides in response to pathogenic bacteria in striped catfish Pangasianodonhypophthalmus

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are one of thepivotal humoral components of innate immunity.They serve as a critical first line of defenseagainst many pathogens. Because of the wideactivity against different microbial agents thesemolecules have made their mark as an emergingclass of natural antibiotics. At the moment, theincreasing incidence of antibiotic-resistantbacterial infections is of great importance inmedicine, and AMPs could help to cope upthis challenge. This project aims to identifysome important novel piscine homologue ofantimicrobial peptides with wide magnitudeof pathogen killing activity in striped catfish.Broad spectrum AMPs can be used as adjuvantin vaccination process against wide array ofmicrobes. Also these AMPs can be used as analternative for antibiotics in aquaculture.

3. Isolation and characterization of novel bacteriophage for biocontrol of bacterial diseases in fish

tnd

4. Identification and characterization of genes responsible for immune response in Labeorohita fingerlings

Immuno-protection by dietary manipulation hasemerged as an integral area of fisheries research.It is a safe and sustainable means for enhancing thenon-specific immunity in fish. In this project weaim to delineate the expression analysis ofsome immune-responsive genes post dietarysupplementation of microbial levan in Labeorohita fingerlings challenged with bacterialinfection. The database on the expression ofvarious immune related gene in L. rohita postsupplementation of levan would be useful tosynthesize information in order to advocateand validate the usefulness of microbial levanas nutraceutical diet. The genes identified inthis study can be used as diagnostic markers foridentification of superior quality fingerlings.