Role of genomics in orphan crops’ productivity featured in Nature Biotechnology 

Despite advances in genomics over the past 20 years, the overall adoption of genomics-assisted breeding in developing countries is limited, especially for complex traits like yield under environmental stress in several crops.

An invited opinion piece titled “Can genomics boost productivity of orphan crops?” published in Nature Biotechnology (Dec 6, 2012), the leading research journal in biotechnology, seeks to throw light on the prospects, potential and constraints of genomics in enhancing crop productivity of so-called ‘orphan crops’ in developing countries.

The opinion piece is authored by Rajeev Varshney, Director – Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG), ICRISAT; Jean-Marcel Ribaut, Director – Generation Challenge Programme, Mexico; Edward S Buckler, Geneticist, USDA/ARS and Cornell University, USA; Roberto Tuberosa, Professor, University Bologna, Italy; J AntoniRafalski, Group Leader, DuPont, USA; and Peter Langridge, Director and CEO, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics.

The piece also discusses why it is essential to invest in orphan crops (and not just major crops); how modern approaches like next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies and genome wide association study (GWAS) are expected to accelerate genomics and genetic research; and how modern breeding approaches like genomic selection (GS), marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS) and marker-assisted back crossing (MABC) will enhance genetic gain in coming years. It also dwells on the role of information technology, training and capacity building in improving and sustaining genomics-assisted breeding approaches in developing countries.

Congratulating Rajeev Varshney on this success,

DG William Dar said, “This is another honor for Rajeev and for the institute”. Praise also came from Governing Board Chair Dr Nigel Poole who said,

“I am so proud of you and your contribution to ICRISAT and science in general”.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings