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2-Plants: Indian biotech centre plans GE potato field trials

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TITLE:  CPRI to trial GM potato
SOURCE: posted by
DATE:   Apr 11, 2003

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CPRI to trial GM potato

The Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) in Shimla, India is set to
conduct limited field trials with GM potatoes tolerant to the potato
tuber moth, following the Department of Biotechnology's approval.

The institute is already doing collaborative research programs in the
field of genetic transformation with institutions in India such as
National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi; National
Center for Plant Genome Research, New Delhi; and Bhabha Atomic Research
Center, Trombay.

According to SM Paul Khurana, Director of the CPRI, potato transgenic
lines that are resistant to potato tuber moth, producing novel essential
amino acid rich protein and tolerant to potato virus Y have been
produced. The protein-rich transgenic lines have been evaluated under
limited field trials for the last 3 years.

CPRI has done molecular characterization of Indian potato cultivars and
cloning of three genes: osmotin from Solanum chacoense, invertase
inhibitor (inhh) from tobacco, and coat protein (CP) gene of potato
leafroll virus(PLRV).

Khurana says that "due to low protein content in potatoes, with
whatsoever expression level, the total protein content of potato cannot
compete with other protein rich food s ources such as pulses, milk, meat,
fish etc."

The institute director adds that biotechnology has become a powerful
supplementary aid to the conventional approaches of crop improvement and
production. Being a vegetatively propagated polyploid crop species,
potato has always been an attractive proposition to address its inherent
problems using biotechnological tools.

SM Paul Khurana of the Central Potato Research Institute at this email