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2-Plants: Indian scientists start project on functional plant genomics

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TITLE:  Functional genomics study gets new life with global aid
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India, by Ashol B. Sharma
DATE:   2 Sep 2005

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Functional genomics study gets new life with global aid

NEW DELHI, SEPT 1: Scientists in the public sector research system have
taken up the study of functional genomics in different food crops. Some
of these projects involve international collaborations.

Important food crops selected for this purpose are rice, tomato,
sugarcane, chickpea and coffee. Functional genomics in wheat is also
likely to be taken up soon. Sequencing of complete genome of a bacterium
is underway.

Addressing the media here on Thursday, Union minister for science and
technology Kapil Sibal said, "The motive behind the functional genomics
projects is to discover new genes and allele mining (finding out a
brother gene). This will ultimately help molecular breeding and the
development of crop varieties that are resistant to drought and diseases.
It will also help grow crops having enhanced nutrition value and fruits
and vegetables with increased shelf-life."

The functional genomics projects for various crops are supposed to create
network between related government ministries and departments,
universities and scientific institutions in the country.

The functional genomics project in rice would not involve any additional
budget apart from staff payments and some other miscellaneous expenses,
said senior advisor in the department of biotechnology Dr S Natesh. He
said India was a part of the global structural genomics project in rice
and the basic infrastructure had also been created for conducting
functional genomics in rice. The partnership in the earlier global
consortium for structural genomics in rice will be essential for the
present study.

The Indian institutions involved in the functional genomics projects in
rice include the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), the Delhi
University (South Campus) and 11 other research labs.

The project for functional genomics in tomato is being looked after by
the IARI, Delhi University, National Centre for Plant Genomic Research,
Hyderabad University and 6 other labs. The project involves an investment
of Rs 80 million.

In the project for functional genomics in sugarcane, IARI, Delhi
University South Campus, Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research,
Sugarcane Breeding Institute and UP Council for Sugarcane Research are
partners. This [project entails an investment of Rs 70 million.

Dr Natesh said that the project for functional genomics in coffee is yet
to be formalised. Brazil is likely to be one of the major global partners.


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