Agricultural scientists from the United Kingdom and India discussed ways of developing crop varieties with better nitrogen absorption and utilization at the annual meeting of the Cambridge-India Network for Translational Research in Nitrogen (CINTRIN).
The global demand for nitrogen (N) fertilizer for agriculture is projected to reach ~250 million tons per year by the year 2050 (from the current ~110 million tons per year). A substantial amount (>50% in some cases) of N applied to the soil is lost by leaching, runoff and denitrification. In addition to adding to the crop production costs, these processes pollute the groundwater, adversely affect soil structure, and damage the environment through increase in levels of nitric oxide, ozone etc.
- CINTRIN aims not only to improve the income and livelihood of farmers by reducing inputs cost, but also to save the environment by minimizing the negative impacts of excessive use of fertilizers.
- CINTRIN scientists are studying the natural variation for nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in diverse crops such as wheat, sorghum, pearl millet and foxtail millet. The findings will be applied to develop new breeding lines with enhanced NUE.
- CINTRIN also uses model plants such as Arabidopsis and Brachypodium for basic research which will be translated into crops in future.
In addition, it will deliver a translational pipeline to produce new cereal varieties for optimized nitrogen use in agriculture.
During the three-day meeting, the teams led by Principal Investigators Dr Rajeev Gupta (Principal Scientist & Theme Leader-Genomics and Trait Discovery, ICRISAT), and Dr Tina Barsby (CEO, NIAB), discussed the progress made in each of the six ‘Work Packages’ (goals) in the four target crops and shared lessons learnt which could be used to drive future plans.
CINTRIN is led by ICRISAT, India, and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), UK. It is one of four Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen, delivered in partnership by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Newton Fund, and the Department of Biotechnology India (DBT). CINTRIN held its annual review meeting at ICRISAT HQ from 5-7 October 2017.
Partners: Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India; National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); the Newton-Bhabha Fund; Department of Plant Sciences and The Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University; ADAS Ltd, UK; KisanHub, UK