|Biotechnology and its application to agriculture and horticulture|
Code No: TMS115 Price: Rs1400/- Category: Foods & Agriculture: Inputs to the Soil
SCOPE AND COVERAGE
Taking into consideration the studies already conducted by TIFAC, the prime objectives of the survey are:-
- Identification of technology areas for further development
This update study has aimed at making an objective assessment of the present update studies for filing the gaps and updating the same.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
2. The current status of the technology in the world and in the country. Market (domestic and export) sizes and their potentials.
3. Assessment of the technology, resource parameters such as energy, raw materials, infrastructure and manpower etc. to arrive at preferred technology options available to the country.
4. Short term and long term economic aspects of preferred options alongwith their feasibility.
5. Impact of the preferred options by itself and its spin offs.
a) For implementation of preferred technology options, identify, critical inputs such as raw material, capital goods and human resources required and their availability, investments required to commercialize, and benefits/ returns expected. Maximum possible quantification is required.
b) For Research and development / technology development identify the requirements of inputs and expected benefits.
7. Action plan implementation of recommendations alongwith identification of
8. Expected impact of recommendations, if implemented.
The field study consisted of visiting research laboratories like IARI, CBT, MEF etc. to know the various procedures followed to put the various theories of biotechnology to practical use. Efforts were made to analyse the status of various biotechnological techniques, which have recently come into commercial application or are in pilot stage. Field study also consisted of writing letters to the concerned people who are practically using biotechnological processes or are involved in development of new technologies. Studies were done to know the economic viability of the technologies used abroad when applied to the Indian context. The economic aspects to the extent possible have also been incorporated. The organizations contacted for obtaining the relevant information of the subjects is given in Annexure –III.
OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS
The main observations and findings of the study are:
- Use of biotechnology in agricultural products, except in case of biofetilizers & biogas generation, is in its infancy stage.
The aim of agricultural and plant biotechnologies are:
The technologies used in agriculture and horticulture are DNA manipulation, Tissue Culture, Gene Transfer, Biofertilisers.
i) Recombinant DNA manipulation technology is the construction of a stretch of DNA sequence consisting of components derived from different sources.
The gene transfer technology is to locate the relevant gene(s) among the tens of thousands that make up the genome. This is done by reducing the lengths of an organism’s genomic DNA equivalent to one or several genes. These smaller segments can be stored and then cloned to produce a quantity of genetic material for further analysis. Cloned genes are necessary research tools for studies of the structure, function and expression of the genes. They are also used as diagnostic test probes in medicine and agriculture to detect specific diseases.
The transfer of genes from one organism to another is a natural process that creates variation in biological traits. It under lies all attempts to improve agricultural species whether through traditional agricultural breeding or through the techniques of molecular biology. The molecular biological methods of gene transfer alleviate the process to manipulated one gene at a time. They can also control the way in which these genes express themselves in the new variety of plant and animal. This can shorten the time required to develop new varieties and give greater precision. This can also be used to exchange genes.
III) Tissue Culture is the science of cultivating animal/ plant tissue in a prepared medium. Technologies based on this can be harnessed to achieve crop improvement objectives.
The application of tissue culture are in the filed of multiplying bamboos, mass multiplication, micro propagation etc.
- Multiplication of bamboos. In general, it takes a long period to flower in bamboos. It has been reported that bamboos can be induced to flower in tissue culture in relatively lesser time. This opens up vast possibilities of selective breeding of improved bamboo varieties and thus replacing the vegetative propagation by speed propagation.
- Mass multiplication is carried out with a number of ornamental and field crops which have shown that the use of this fully mechanized procedure of multiplication, distribution and transfer is suited to commercial micropropagation.
- Micropropagation has been carried out in several crop which include, potato, sweet potato, yams, garlic, lime, banana, pineapple and papaya; spices including ginger, small cardamom, turmeric, black pepper and several aromatic and medicinal plants such as sarpgandha and antamul. Elite genotypes of banana, papaya, coconut, small cardamom and oil palm have been multiplied on a commercial scale by private seed companies. Micropropagation of ornamental plants such as gladioli, orchids and bougainvillea which have tremendous export value has been achieved.
Tissue culture technology is the most disseminated. These techniques have been known in India since the thirties. Indian Scientists are well recognized internationally for the significant contribution they have made in the development in this field.
Among the tissue culture techniques, plant-propagation is the only area of biotechnology commercially exploited in India. Massive multiplication of plants have been conducted by private companies since the middle sixties. The recent Indian economical policies have favoured the development of agro—industries, including biotechnological companies. Since 1992, emerging private companies have successfully multiplied hundreds of thousands of ornamental plants for both the local and international markets.
Certain micro-organisms and minute plants which can absorb gaseous nitrogen and phosphorous directly from the atmosphere and make it available to the plants can be identified, multiplied in the laboratories and introduced into the root zone of crop plants to supply nitrogen and phosphorous. Materials containing such organisms are called biofertilisers.
Some of the biofertiliser are Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azispir illiumm Blue-green algae, Azolla etc.
Successful immunization of cucumber seedlings against the Anthracnose fungus have been achieved. And the acquired immunity can be extended to predators as well.
Approximately 119 pure chemical substance extracted from higher plants were used in medicine throughout the world. The market potential for herbal drugs in the Western world could range from Rs. 186.20 billion in the next ten years to Rs. 1,786 billion by the year 2000 if the AIDS epidemic continued unchecked. Utilization of plant biotechnologies for the production of pharmaceuticals, however, faced certain problems like rare occurrences of highly productive cell lines, difficulty in including the cells to produce the desired compound, vulnerability of slow- growing tissue to bacterial and fungal infections, laborious excretion between different genes and general shuffling of chromosomes. In Philippines, intensive work has been done on identification of medicinal plants where new medicines processing factory has been setup based on more than 300 identified medicinal plants. Similarly nearly 40, 000 different kinds of traditional plant drugs have been produced in 57 factories. Commercial usefulness of medicinal plants can be illustrated by Catharanthus roseus which has been widely grown on commercial scale in Madagascar and is even exported. Many new products like human and veterinary vaccines, chemicals and pharmaceuticals have been extensively developed in Australia.
Hairy root culture, derived from callus tissue, infected by Agrobacterium rhizogenes, gives a natural defence against infection and considerable work has been done on this.
Application of biotechnology in crop improvement is noteworthy. The example of which are:
- improved malting quality of barley by gene transfer, Finland;
Setting up of national Gene Banks with the objective of conserving species of medicinal and aromatic plants under endangered/threatened categories is an important developed.
Some of the achievements include the procedures for isolation of BT plasmid DNA, preparation of plasmid DNA library, probing of ICP gene and purification of toxic crystal protein from Bacillus cultures which have been standardized. </p>
i) Recombinant DNA manipulation technology is the construction of a strech of DNA sequence consisting of components derived from different sources.
ii) Gene transfer technology is the ability to identify a particular gene- one that encodes a desired trait in an organism.
iii) Tissue Culture is the science of cultivating animal/ plant tissue in a prepared medium. Technologies based on this can be harnessed to achieve crop improvement objectives.
The application of tissue culture are in the filed of multiplying bamboos, mass multiplication, micropropagation etc.
iv) Biofertilisers: Certain micro-organisms and minute plants which can absorb gaseous nitrogen and phosphorous directly from the atmosphere and make it available to the plants can be identified, multiplied in the laboratories and introduced into the root zone of crop plants to supply sitrogen and phosphorous. Materials containing such organisms are called biofertilisers.
Some of the biofertlisers are Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azispirillium, Blue-green algae, Azolla etc.
- R&D organizations and industrial establishments involved in the development, production and marketing of activities/ products relating to glucose, poultry, hormones, pharmaceuticals, sugar , agriculture, biomedical, horticulture, environment and acquaculture as also administrative / planning departments both in private and government sectors will be restlessly busy with the applied aspects of the various options that the biotechnology will unfold near future.
- Lack of awareness, incentive, trained manpower and realization by the potential users of the advantage of biotechnology options over conventional processing routes and more so the absence of case histories developed on promotional basis are some of the main deterrents in adaptability of biotechnology.
The thrust areas of research and development of techniques include:
- Production of micro-insecticides, applications of the fungal insecticides, testing and evaluation in appropriate socio-economic, situations, formulation and application methods for various agro-systems, catabolic systems inherent in microbial groups specifically in the context of metabolism of environmentally important chemicals, metabolic diversity exhibited by micro organisms when oxygen is not available, inoculation for bio-contained systems, biotransformation of contaminants in multiple phase system.
b) Techno-Economic Feasibility studies of specific proposals have to be taken up.
c) Pilot projects in selected thrust areas needed to be tested.
d) There is further scope for appropriate R&D support, trained manpower, and education of farmers. Entrepreneurs in the use of technology.
e) There is need for trained manpower base. Biotechnology manpower development has to be regarded as a sub-system of the Science & Technology manpower system and;
f) In order to stimulate academic research an innovation oriented programme aiming at the protection and stimulation of fundamental research in biotechnological disciplines, the creation of an infrastructure fit to bridge the gap between the scientific community and industry.