ICRISAT holds a National Expert’s Consultation Meeting.
In collaboration with national partners and private sectors, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) organized a “National Expert Consultation Meeting on Gene Editing for Sustainable Agriculture and Nutritional Security” on 7th May 2022. A group of 30 participants representing the national experts from public institutions- the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), Mohali, Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), Tirupati, and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, and private partners – Corteva AgriScience, Advanta seeds, Syngenta and Bioseeds participated along with ICRISAT-Scientists in the meeting.
Inaugurating the meeting, Dr Arvind Kumar, DDG-R, ICRISAT, welcomed the group and presented brief overview on the importance of gene editing for sustainable agriculture and nutritional security. He emphasized selecting economically essential traits, which are difficult to address through conventional breeding for gene editing. He also briefed that a public-private partnership is vital to share the knowledge and experience and showcase India as a global leader in gene editing after the approval of SDN1 and SDN2 edits.
Conventional breeding relies heavily on allele availability for the trait in germplasm, which is the limiting factor for crop improvement. Breeding crops resistant to biotic/abiotic stresses with enhanced nutrition and yield in the changing climate scenario would take longer, which can be overcome by using new breeding technologies (NBTs) such as Gene editing.
During his inaugural remarks, Dr Sanjay Kalia, Scientist E, Department of Biotechnology, mentioned that plant transformation systems, genomic information, and capabilities play a crucial role in successful gene editing.
Dr Kuldeep Singh, Head of Genebank, highlighted the knowledge power and state-of-the-art facilities of ICRISAT, including germplasm, crop improvement programs, seed system, genomic resources, and high throughput phenotyping transgenic facility, crop protection and seed health, climate change facility.
Dr Sudhakar Reddy, Scientist and Cluster lead CMBTE, ICRISAT, briefed on the development of CRISPR tool kits and update of gene editing pipelines for Striga resistance, haploid induction, trait fixation in sorghum, and increasing the seed size in chickpea. He also presented the update for upcoming editing pipelines for selected traits for ICRISAT mandate crops.
Experts from public organisations, Dr Tanushri Kaul, ICGEB, presented gene-editing technologies for herbicide tolerance and biofortification in different crops.
Dr Rupesh Deshmukh, NABI, briefed the gene-editing work on fruit quality traits in tomato, oleic acid, and reduced rancidity in rice bran oil etc Dr Eshwar Rami Reddy, IISER, updated gene-editing work in rice Dr C Viswanathan, IARI, presented progress in genome editing for drought, salt, blast, yield etc. in different crops.
Prof. Ravindran, TNAU, highlighted the progress made in genome editing for crop improvement and explained that gene-edited crops focused on the traits such as yield, grain quality, disease/insect resistance, and abiotic stress tolerance.
Dr Amitabh Mohanty fromCorteva AgriScience, briefed on the importance of gene-editing technologies in agriculture, nutritional food security, and the social acceptance of the gene-editing tools. Dr Girish Kumar Krishna explained Syngenta’s need in terms of prioritized crops and traits of preference for the industrial requirement and market-relevant traits to be considered for the benefit of both sides Dr Elangovan, Advanta Seeds highlighted the current issues in Advanced Breeding tools and licensing of gene-editing tools for commercialization. Dr Dwarkesh Parihar from Bioseeds briefed on the importance of the gene-editing work and highlighted the crops and traits that need to be focused upon for crop improvement.
This was followed by a brainstorming session prioritizing research areas, crops and traits for gene editing.
Dr Kumar appreciated the efforts of the team and highlighted the important role of public private partnership.