27 August 2004

India: Government To Fund Biotech Research Projects

NEW DELHI:  In a bid to boost research in the biotechnology sector, the government has decided to provide funding and infrastructure support for public-private partnership programmes in specific areas. The identified areas include crops, biofertilisers, medicinal and aromatic plants, animal and plant biotechnology, aquaculture and marine biotechnology.

The government will also make special efforts to expand public-private partnerships, besides forging effective links with academia particularly in upscaling and validation of laboratory research, department of biotechnology (DBT) secretary Dr MK Bhan said.

“There is a paradigm shift in basic research in modern biology; scientists are moving closer to the fundamental secrets of life and the application of the knowledge generated,” he told eFE. Going further, he said, “Work on transgenics, coupled with prospecting for new genes from our rich biodiversity, is poised to pay rich dividends in terms of new products and technologies. This will be for improved production and enhanced nutritive quality of food, fruit and vegetable crops and reduce post-harvest losses.”

As part of DBT’s focus on research and development (R&D) in agricultural biotechnology, a putative transgenic rice line has been obtained with the co-bombardment of four genes.

According to DBT’s annual report for 2003-04, these plants are in green house and will be analysed for integration of transgenes. In a project on genetic engineering of sugarcane for developing resistance against borers and red rot disease, a population of 119 putative transgenic plants developed has been advanced to next generation in the transgenic green house.

Development of superior nitrogen fixing microorganisms and those that mobilise nutrients from soil to the plants more efficiently will be another priority area in biotechnology, Dr Bhan said. Keeping this in view, a major programme on engineering of efficient strains is being pursued at 12 centres.

Research in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants also yielded attractive dividends. Thirty lead molecules including 12 anti-cancerous, three anti-diabetic and 15 with immunomodulatory properties have been identified after screening 50 medicinal plants using in vitro bioscreens. Efforts will now be made to convert some of those identified leads into drugs.

During the year, R&D projects for improvement of forest trees, horticulture and plantation crops will be pursued. Tissue culture protocol standardisation, characterisation of genetic diversity, tree improvement through breeding molecular biology tools for transformatiln, among others, will be given priority.

Source: Financial Express vom 2004-08-26.

Share on Twitter+1Share on FacebookShare on XingShare on LinkedInShare via email