Thursday, April 11, 2013


LUDHIANA, APRIL 11:----------

Biotechnology is immensely useful in providing technology solution to prevailing and emerging constraints in agriculture. This was stated by the Punjab Agricultural University(PAU) Director of Research, Dr S.S.Gosal while interacting with biotechnology experts from various other universities of Punjab, today. The discussion had a focus on knowing the strengths of various universities in the field of biotechnology, identifying the mutually beneficial areas and developing a net-work mechanism. This was necessary as the biotechnology infrastructure and the running costs involve huge capital, which are generally not affordable for all, said Dr Gosal, adding that in network mode, the benefits of the existing facilities can be shared by all participating institutes. We can serve the nation better through collective networking, he emphasized. Giving an overview as to how biotechnology can find application, he highlighted the areas such as developing crop resilience to climate change, dealing with biotic and abiotic stresses in plants and animals, natural resources management, food processing, bio-fortified crops for human health, etc.

Dr Gosal shared that His Excellency the Governor of Punjab, Shri Shivraj V. Patil, who was keen to see the biotechnology network functional among state universities, held a meeting of the Vice Chancellors to discuss the issue. In the meeting held on October 19, 2012 various issues faced by the universities were discussed seeking suggestions for strengthening the area. The todays' meeting was a follow-up of the same.

The PAU Vice Chancellor Dr B.S.Dhillon had already taken up the matter with the other Vice Chancellors. Realizing the tremendous potential of biotechnology in increasing agriculture productivity, improving human and animal health and providing safe and clean environment, there is urgent need to strengthen research and education in the field of biotechnology, said Dr Dhillon, elaborating that there are several emerging fields such as genomics, DNA fingerprinting & patenting, development and testing of GM crops, food-biotechnology, bioinformatics which need attention, through networking.

Dr S.S.Randhawa, Director of Research, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Science University (GADVASU), highlighted the areas requiring bio-technology research focus. These concerned animal health (molecular diagnostics, vaccinology, molecular pathogenesis, nano-biotechnology, stem cell biology), animal genomics, marker assisted selection, bio-informatics and bio-statistical modeling.

Dr J.S.Dhiman, PAU, Additional Director Research (Natural Resources & Plant Health Management) said that modern biotechnology offers unique applications of science for the betterment of society through development of crops with improved nutritional quality, resistance to pests and diseases, and reducing cost of production, adding that the initiative to create biotechnology network involving various universities in the state will synergize the needed output.

Dr M.S.Reddy, Head, Deptt of Biotechnology, Thapar University (TU), Patiala said that they have strong programmes on biotechnology with the focus on fertilizer saving, bio-fertilizers, bio-inoculants and that collaboration with PAU could be possible. He also expressed consent to undertake mass propagation of new elite material of sugarcane and citrus recommended by PAU, through tissue culture.

Dr Dinesh Goyal, Professor of Biotechnology, TU, Patiala, highlighted that the collaborative work can be taken further in bio-intensive approaches such as the use of neem-based pesticides against major pests. Collaboration with PAU, having an excellent mechanism of outreach to farmers, can be mutually advantageous, he said.

Dr (Mrs) Aruna Bhatia, Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences, Punjabi University (Pbi U), Patiala said that they have on-going bio-technology programmes in molecular diagnostics of pathogens, enhancing efficiency of vaccines, microbial toxins and novel proteins, nano-biotechnology, probiotic DNA gene cassettes, etc. where collaboration with PAU or other institutes in the network would be worthwhile.

Dr Prabhjeet Singh, Head, Department of Biotechnology, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar elaborated on research being carried out in his department on water stress management through genetic engineering. He delved that other institutes could collaborate in the field of vesicle transport genes.

Working on biotechnology and related fields, the PAU scientists namely, Dr J.S.Sandhu, Dr A.K.Gupta, Dr Parveen Chhuneja, Dr Amarjit Kaur, Dr H.S.Sodhi, also participated in the discussion which led to identification of some actionable points that include tissue culture multiplication of new varieties (sugarcane, citrus), development and commercialization of algal and bacterial bio-fertilizers, debittering of citrus juice, neem based pesticides, potential molecules for foods and feeds, edible vaccines, probiotic DNAs, vesicle genes, etc. The mode of collaboration will be finalized after specific discussion and signing of accords, if needed.

It was decided that scientist-to-scientist interactions, visits to different biotechnology labs in the region need to be made frequent as the same will help in foster the network mechanism which will aim at pooling of facilities and findings for mutual benefits in relation to addressing the common problems in the region.
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