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NARC-An Agricultural Research Centre

Written by Hafsa Ayub

NARC

In the face of biotic, abiotic stresses and increasing population in Pakistan, its challenge for agriculture research to increase productivity of food crops. NARC promises to overcome these factors by introducing new emerging sciences of genomics and biotechnology.

WHAT IS NARC?

NARC is acronym for National Agriculture and Research Council. Its coordinated programmes provide as a common platform for the scientists functioning in different federal, provincial agricultural research, and academic institutions to mutually plan their research activities, avoiding unnecessary repetition of research efforts.

RESEARCH INSTITUTE:

Following are the list of different NARC departments worked in their relative fields;

·         Animal Sciences Institute
·         Agricultural and Biological Engineering Institute
·         Agriculture Poly Technique Institute
·         Crop Sciences Institute
·         Climate Change, Alternate Energy & Water Resources Institute (CAEWRI)
·         Department of Plant & Environmental Protection
·         Food Science and Product Development Institute
·         Horticultural Research Institute
·         Honeybee Research Institute
·         Land Resources Research Institute
·         National Institute of Genomics & Advance Biotechnology (NIGAB)
·         National Institute of Organic Agriculture
·         Plant Genetic Resources Institutes
·         Rangeland Research Institute
·         Social Sciences Research Institute

NARC is working on different projects for better production of plants, animals, food and protection of environment that improves our livelihoods. Here are researches conducted by NARC in Pakistan are:

HIGHLIGHTS OF RESEARCH

Here are the highlights of research, on which NARC working for;

  • Genetic Engineering of Crops

Development of transgenic crop plants like wheat, rice, tomato, potato and chickpea are mainly focused because they are economically important for Pakistan. In rice, wheat and groundnut genes for drought, salt tolerance disease resistance have been successfully transformed.

  • Functional evolution and genomics

The main emphasis of their research is study functional evolution and genomics in plants. Expose molecular mechanisms essential for evolution of morphological uniqueness and functional genomics of gene involved is the major objective

  • Tissue culture

Efforts have been made for the production of virus-free potato and banana plants by Tissue culture team through tissue culture and micro propagation. Up to 31st March, 2010, total number of in vitro plants produced is more than 10,000.

  • Hybrid Plant Production through Embryo Rescue

Normally, plant embryos that form when two different species come together, abortion of such offspring’s takes place. In vitro embryo rescue techniques are being used to rescue such plant embryos. These ‘wide crosses’ are often advantageous to transfer genetic traits from wild relatives to cultivated crop plants. The embryo rescue technology is always helpful in plant breeding or hybrid seed production programs.

  • Marker-assisted Selection for Biotic and Abiotic Stresses in Wheat

Wheat is the most important world cereal. In laboratory, for improvement in salt and rust resistance, they are trying to develop a system of marker-assisted selection. For this purpose, QTL mapping populations are being developed. The great parents i.e. tolerant and vulnerable are being screened out of a large collection of germplasm at the Plant Genetic Resources Research Program at NARC.

As NARC working on different projects due to their successive stage throughout their establishment, here are several achievements they got;

ACHIEVEMENTS

  •  Transgenic Plants (GMOs) Developed
  1. Rust resistant transgenic wheat line
  2. Drought and salt tolerant wheat lines
  3. Drought and salt tolerant rice lines
  • GMO testing
  1. In Pakistan, Yellow rust is one of the major elements for turn down in the production of wheat. Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation protocol has been established by using mature embryos as explants source in local varieties.
  2. Establishment of Bt gene authentication and expression monitoring system in cotton
  3. In Pakistan, banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) is major threat for Banana crop. Through tissue culture technology, More than one thousand disease free banana plants were tested at different locations in Sindh. Transformation of Banana plants done with marker gene while induction of resistance against BBTV is in progress.
  4. At NARC green houses, Virus free nucleus seeds of potato are being produced. During the year 2009 and 2010 Seventeen thousand nucleus seed has been harvested from green house at NARC. These nucleus seed will be further multiplied at northern areas.
  5. Due to high prices of the hybrid seeds (Rs. 5-6/seed), growing hybrid tomato through seed is very much expensive. For off-season crop of tomato, undefined hybrids are used which need regular trimming of lateral shoots for single stem maintenance. Vegetative propagation through lateral cuttings is often faster, easier and cheaper as it takes 5 to 6 weeks to grow a tomato than that of crop raised from seed. It will minimize the cost on the purchase of hybrid seeds every time and to get one or two extra crops through cuttings.
  6. Onion is developed throughout Pakistan in different size and with different growing seasons. Nursery rising is the traditional method of planting onion for off-season/autumn crop, which starts from first week of July. Because of high temperature and monsoon rains, It is difficult to manage nursery seedlings of autumn crop. Through direct planting of onion sets that help to overcome this difficulty.
  7. The most serious fungal disease of potato crop is Late blight. Nearly a century, protective and curative fungicides and selection of new varieties having resistance against late blight has been used. But it is harmful for crops. Late blight is a threat to potato production in hills as well as in plains. Its chemical control and biological control was developed by potato Programme, HRI, NARC.
  8. Potato Programme overcomes the problem with a success story of offseason vegetable production. Many vegetables peas, turnip, cabbage, beans and cauliflowers were introduced. Farmers adopted quickly offseason vegetable due to handsome increase in income. Within 5 years the supply of off season vegetable during summer in Punjab got popularity and marketing channels were developed automatically. Peas, beans, cabbage and turnip production was got success and change the living hood of Kalam and Kaghan farmers.

This is not the ending border to which NARC come across, they looking forward for more advancement in future.

Future Thrust

  • Genetic transformation of cotton against sucking insect pests and CLCV.
  • Genes Identification for biotic and abiotic stresses.
  •  proteomics approaches will use in Identification of genes.
  • Identification and isolation of new plant gene promoters.
  • Isolation of genes against sucking insect pests.
  • Identification and functional characterization of salinity and drought-responsive genes in rice and wheat in comparison with Salicornia
  • For economic importance, Construction of cDNA library of wheat crop will be introduced.
  • Incorporation of gene from wild rice into cultivated for resistance to bacterial blight through embryo rescue and marker-aided selection.
  • For potato growers in Pakistan, disease free pre-basic III seed of potato will be made.
  • Female Papaya in-vitro plants will be made.
  • Through radical crop design,crop plant productivity will Improved.
  • Through marker -assisted selection and genetic transformation, genetic improvement of wheat and rice for drought and salt tolerance will be made.
  • By using SSR markers, QTL mapping for salt tolerance in wheat will be introduce.

Source:

NARC Pakistan official website

 

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About the author

Hafsa Ayub

I am bioscientist also the co-founder of Biologydecoded.com to post my inspiration, work and free resources that I hope others will find interesting too.