Plant Biology and Biotechnology

Crop Improvement

The Crop Improvement Group (Dr. Reddy) focuses on translational research in the area of agricultural biotechnology and crop improvement using transgenic and targeted genome editing technology in the indica rice cultivar to improve rice plant architecture for enhanced productivity. It intends to simultaneously engineer resistance to more than one herbicide with different mode of action to control the weeds and to promote direct seeded rice (DSR) cultivation and replacing labour intensive transplantation and manual weeding. In addition, via the enhancement of the plant innate immunity by knocking out selective disease susceptible genes in the rice genome for durable disease-resistance. The Nutritional Improvement Group (Kaul) used the latest genetic engineering technologies to improve traits and the nutritional value of cereals, legumes and tomatoes. The Bacteriology Group in Trieste (Venturi) focuses on bacterial interspecies signaling in plant associated microbiomes and the identification and development of plant bacterial probiotics.

Highlights

The Crop Improvement Group engineered multiple herbicide tolerant rice plants for effective weed management was developed (Plant Biotechnology Journal, 18:2504–2519, 2020; Scientific Reports 8:11598, 2018). The Nutritional Improvement Group (NIC) in New Delhi have made very good progress in developing herbicide-resistant maize, rice, and double herbicide-resistant pigeon pea crops with improved aromatic amino acid profiles (J Biosci 45:137, 2020; Advancements in Crop Improvement Techniques 159-197, 2020; Front Plant Sci 25:10-37, 2019; Front Plant Sci 10:1-17, 2019; Physiol Mol Biol Plants 24:175–183, 2018) for better weed management and enhanced crop yields. Generation of crops that are resistant to multiple herbicides offers huge advantages to farmers in weed management by circumvention of herbicide-resistant weed population development. Moreover, the NIC group has been independently instrumental in generating Rice Bean (Vigna umbellata) draft genome sequence to unravel the late flowering and un-palatability related genomic resources for efficient domestication of this underutilized crop (doi:https://doi.org/10.1101/816595).In addition, CRISPR-Cas9 based system was developed for Crocus sativus for efficient gene knockout or edits in the future (Plant Methods 16:47, 2020) and Further, the NIC group has initiated the development of rice grains with enhanced iron and zinc contents in their endosperm. The Bacteriology Group reported on the role of the microbiome in a rice plant disease (Microb Ecol 80:637-642, 2020) and the mechanisms of plant colonization of a novel plant beneficial bacteria (Appl Environ Microbiol 86:e00622-20,2020; Mol Plant Microb Interact 33:349-361, 2020).