ICRISAT’s young researchers shine at major international conference on applied genetics

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15 August 2022, New Delhi: Ms Rasika Aher and Ms Vidhi Sapara, two research scholars at ICRISAT, have been recognized at the 2nd International Conference on Integrative Biology and Applied Genetics (ICIBAG 2022) for their presentations on developing pearl millet lines with prolonged flour shelf life and sorghum seeds that can preserve hybrid vigor for multiple generations respectively. ​

The scholars are third-year PhD students from Cell, Molecular Biology and Trait Engineering (CMBTE) department at ICRISAT. They were awarded first place in oral and poster presentations at the Conference organized by the Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India recently.

Improving the shelf life of pearl millet flour: Ms Rasika’s project titled ‘Polymorphism in novel triacylglycerol lipase genes are associated with low rancidity in pearl millet flour’ is in collaboration with Corteva Agrisciences, USA and National Agri-food Biotechnology Institute (NABI), India.

The project focuses on specific genetic variations in pearl millet lipases that have been identified and can be used for breeding high-yielding hybrid pearl millet varieties with prolonged flour shelf life. ​

“Pearl millet must be ground fresh before use, which is a massive drawback for consumers, especially women. The prolonged shelf life of pearl millet flour is expected to make this nutritious and climate-resilient crop more popular among consumers, further increasing opportunities for primary and secondary processors and enhancing profits for smallholder farmers in drylands of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Rahika Aher.

Experiments on trait fixation for sustainable sorghum seed production: Ms Vidhi’s proposed project addresses the disadvantage of identifying desirable sorghum lines with high-yielding capacity and improved nutrition value, as the trait is not fixed.

Ms Vidhi is working on ‘Trait fixation by tinkering the meiotic recombination and matrilineal genes in sorghum.’

“ The project focuses on applying clonal reproduction through seeds. This way, any desired genotype, no matter how complex, can be perpetuated through successive seed generations” said Ms Vidhi.

The project also sheds light on the process involved in meiosis, which is of interest to plant breeders. It is expected to contribute to a better understanding of crop reproduction and improvement in the semi-arid tropics.

“Youth, the pillar and the future of the world with their unmatched potential are vested with great accountability to make the world a better place. We urge youth to take up agriculture and agricultural research and play a key role in achieving global nutritional security to feed the future world,” said Dr Palakolanu Sudhakar Reddy, Scientist, Cell, Molecular Biology and Trait Engineering (CMBTE) lab at ICRISAT.

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