From PD’s Desk

Page Updated On : 15/03/2017 - 11:59:05

National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology (NRCPB) established in the year 1993 is a premier research institution under the umbrella of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It was created with a vision to strengthen research and education in the frontier areas of Plant Biotechnology with relevance to Indian agriculture. The Centre is mandated with the responsibilities of: (i) Basic plant molecular biology research for understanding molecular basis of biological processes and (ii) Coordination and capacity building for devising tools and techniques of biotechnology and genetic engineering for crop improvement.

Seeded in 1985 with a small group of dedicated scientists in Biotechnology Centre as part of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the NRCPB has successfully delivered popular mustard varieties Pusa Gold and Pusa Jai Kisan, one of the top three mustard varieties released by the ICAR to date. Further, NRCPB has been partner in the release of marker-assisted selection (MAS)-derived rice variety Improved Pusa Basmati-1  with resistance to bacterial leaf blight by IARI. Moricandia based cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) system developed at NRCPB has led to commercial release of mustard hybrids NRC Sankar Sarson by DRMR Bharatpur and Coral 432 by Advanta India.

The Centre achieved global visibility by successfully decoding rice, tomato and wheat genomes through international partnerships after developing modern genomics laboratories and expertise of scientists in the frontier areas of plant genomics. This enabled NRCPB scientists develop further capabilities and decode pigeonpea genome, the first eukaryotic genome sequenced in India without international support and the first pulse crop genome sequenced globally. These pioneering efforts were followed by decoding of Mesorhizobium, Puccinia, Magnaporthe, jute (JRO-524) and mango (Amrapali) genomes by NRCPB through national partnerships.

In addition to its focused research on selected crops and traits, NRCPB initiated in 2005-06 coordination of research in the frontier areas of functional genomics and transgenic development in different ICAR institutes through Network Project on Transgenics in Crops (NPTC). The NPTC has contributed immensely by providing sustained coordinated support for uplifting of plant biotechnological research in India for the development of genomic resources, mapping of genes/QTLs and transgenic events in field and horticultural crops.

A broad spectrum rice blast resistance gene Pi54 was mapped and cloned at NRCPB, that has now been transferred in to several mega varieties of rice including Pusa Basmati-1 and BPT 5204 and in many other varieties by the rice breeders using MAS.  NRCPB scientists have mapped several other genes/QTLs for important agronomic traits in rice, mustard and wheat for yield, quality and abiotic stress resistance traits, resulting in large number of publications in high impact factor journals, patents and public-private partnerships.

As a partner of the postgraduate teaching programme of IARI, NRCPB has been instrumental in developing trained human resource in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. So far the Centre has trained more than 400 postgraduate students and scientists from across India and abroad, and will continue to serve as a Centre of Excellence in teaching and training in advanced plant biotechnology.

NRCPB has received for its outstanding contribution in agriculture research ICAR-Sardar Patel Outstanding Institution Award for 2011-12 and Mahindra Samriddhi Krishi Sansthan Samman in 2012. The scientists of NRCPB have received prestigious national awards including ICAR-Norman Borlaug award, ICAR-Rafi Ahmed Kidwai award, NAAS-K Ramiah Memorial award, DBT-National Bioscience Award, ICAR Young Scientist award, VASVIK award, NAAS Recognition and Young Scientist awards, NASI Reliance platinum Jubilee award and JC Bose National Fellowship. The fellowships of prestigious national science academies, namely INSA, NASc and NAAS have brought laurels to the Centre. 

The Centre has developed capabilities, human resource and infrastructure in the field of genomics, bioinformatics, molecular markers and transgenic development and is poised to discover new genes and develop new genotypes with superior agronomic performance using the vast germplasm resources of India. Mobilization of superior genes and alleles in different crops varieties using marker assisted selection and transgenic technology will be our top priority in future.

(Nagendra Singh)