Integrated Centre for Drought Research
Department of Crop Physiology, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru 560 065

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Evaluation of groundnut germplasm for morphological, physiological and molecular characters/ traits associated with drought tolerance for enhancing productivity in rain dependant systems.  National Fund for Basic and Strategic Research - ICAR

The major emphasis of this project is to assess the groundnut germplasm for drought tolerance traits.  A set of diverse groundnut germplasm accessions have been screened for variability in WUE based on carbon isotope discrimination besides other important traits such as root traits, water conservation traits and yield traits. Trait donor parents are potential genomic resources for basic and QTL studies.

An effort to link genetic diversity with phenotype through molecular and physiological characterization of a diverse reference collection of groundnut – Collaborative project with ICRISAT funded by DBT

A set of diverse germplasm collection called the “Reference set” was extensively phenotyped for WUE, root traits, intrinsic tolerance by TIR technique and other relevant traits.  A whole genome scan for polymorphism was achieved using DArT markers.  The reference collection comprising of 266 germplasm accessions of groundnut were found to be polymorphic at 3515 DArT marker loci.  The population structure and the associated Q and K matrices have been computed.  The main emphasis of the program is marker-traits association based on LD mapping to identify QTLs governing these drought tolerance traits.
Physiological characterization of rice mutants for variability in water use efficiency – DBT

A large set of EMS induced rice mutants were developed from a well known drought tolerant rice cultivar Nagina 22 (N22).   On screening a sub-set of these mutants, significant variability in Δ13C was noticed.  Promising gain-in-function and loss-of-function mutants have been identified and are being further evaluated.

Identification and characterization of transcription factors associated with desiccation response of plants

The emphasis is to in silico analysis of promoter sequences for identification of transcription factor binding sites. Besides, the major objective is to clone and characterize stress specific transcription factor in finger millet and Pennisitum.

Stress transcription factors cloned (54 Elusine and 37 in Penisitum) are diverse and are from several families of transcription factors.

Based on functional validation (RNAi, over expression studies) a few promising transcription factors to improve stress adaptation were identified.

Identification of QTLs for WUE and root traits to improve moisture stress tolerance in mulberry through MAS

The major emphasis of the project on developing trait specific mapping population and develop genomic resources (locus specific genomic and genic SSRs). Besides, the emphasis on identifying the QTLs controlling WUE, roots and other physiological traits.

The germplasm accessions were phenotyped to identify contrasting traits for roots and WUE. Four trait specific mapping populations were developed. Two mapping populations one for root (Dudia white x UP105) and one for WUE (MS3 x Hmachal local) were extensively phenotyped and genotyped. About 262 in-house SSRs markers have been developed out of which 117 showed locus specific amplification. A few marker QTLs were identified for traits of interest. The major focus of this program is to generate trait introgressed population by crossing trait donor parents and identification of trait pyramided lines through MAS.

Targeting genes for ion homeostasis and salt tolerance in finger millet (Eleusine coracana ): Over expressing genes for salt compartmentation and proton gradient generation and their significance in salt tolerance - DST

The objective is to improve the salt tolerance by Na+ compartmentation into vacuole by over expression H+ tonoplast and Na+ transporter NHX-1 and AVP-1. Transgenic lines in T1 generation are being tested for stable integration of genes and also the growth of plants with varied level of sodium chloride in the root medium.

Development of water use efficient and high water productive tobacco lines for soil moisture limiting environments through physiological & molecular approaches.

With an overall objective of developing high water productive tobacco lines, highly promising trait donor parents for roots and WUE have been identified. The emphasis is to map the QTL for the traits by identifying double haploid mapping populations. Further, the aim is to introgress the traits by developing double haploid F1 derived from superior trait donor lines.

Development of transgenics overexpressing transcription factors to increase drought tolerance and reduce post harvest water loss in mulberry

Abiotic stresses, mainly drought cause appreciable reduction in mulberry productivity. The major focus is to improve leaf yield, and maintain leaf quality by reducing post harvest water loss (PHWL), especially under drought stress. The goal of the project is to overexpress transcription factors like DREBs and SHINE that would impart stress tolerance under field conditions, and reduce water loss from leaves. Full length SHN3-like gene associated with epicuticular wax biosynthesis was cloned from mulberry (var. V1) plant. Suitable over expression cassette with candidate genes have been made for developing transgenic in mulberry. 

Development and characterization of drought specific ESTs in coffee (Coffea canephora)

Drought, affects coffee tree growth and productivity. The major emphasis is develop genomic resources like drought specific ESTs, genomic and genic SSRs for crop improvement. Drought specific cDNA library developed in C. canephora is diverse and approximately 9% of the expressed genes are related to transcription activity while 36% are unknown. A trait specific mapping population developed and being characterized using these genomic resources and other outsourced markers.


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