Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene Revolution Reaches The Poorest Farmers In India

28.02.2005


It’s the news they have all been waiting for. After years of living under the threat of another devastating epidemic of downy mildew, a disease similar to that which caused the Irish potato famine, India’s poorest farmers have been offered a lifeline in the form of a new disease-resistant hybrid. The hybrid has been produced in record time using modern biotechnology techniques.



In February 2005, India released its first hybrid using modern DNA techniques. “This is something new and something very big” stated Professor Witcombe, from the University of Wales, Bangor who manages the research programme “it has taken an international team of scientists more than a decade of hard work to produce this new hybrid and I believe it marks the beginning of a revolution in pearl millet breeding.”

The fact that revolutionary DNA techniques have been used to improve a crop that is grown only by the poorest farmers in India and Africa is nothing short of remarkable. Until now agricultural biotechnology has been driven almost exclusively by the private sector for farmers in the developed world. “We want to change all that and give the poorest farmers a real chance of benefiting from the first products of this new Gene Revolution” says Tom Hash, a plant breeder from ICRISAT, a member of the research team.


The crop in question is pearl millet; know as the poor man’s crop because it grows in the hottest, driest places where no other crop can survive. Tens of millions of poor people depend on its grain to eat and its leaves and stems to feed to their animals. More than half of the world’s pearl millet is grown in India where it seems to survive almost anything – anything that is, except downy mildew. This devastating disease can destroy up to one third of the crop and worryingly the most popular pearl millet hybrid grown in India is now showing signs of susceptibility to the disease. If the disease hits the crop in epidemic proportions then farmers are looking at losses in grain yield worth at least US$ 8 million.

A solution was needed and needed quick. Traditional plant breeding for resistant hybrids can be a cumbersome and slow process so scientists turned to biotechnology for answers. The UK Department for International Development funded an international team of scientists to develop the tools to read the genetic sequence of pearl millet. With the help of the genetic map, scientists were able to identify the genes required for resistance to downy mildew. Resistant genes were taken from pearl millet grown in Africa and India and introduced into one of the parents of the new hybrid. No foreign genes were introduced and the hybrid was produced naturally so the product was the same as that of traditional breeding – not a GMO.

“The application of biotechnology has produced this new hybrid in a third of the time usually required and so has given us a head-start in the fight against the disease” says Witcombe. “downy mildew is a slippery customer that eventually manages to get past our defences. It’s the battle we’ve won but not the war”

Elinor Elis-Williams | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bangor.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>