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

Home > About the Program > Genesis and Mandate Activities



Drought is the most complex abiotic stress and the task of addressing crop improvement (adaptation) under water limited conditions is a formidable one and will requires a concerted approach. It involves meteorological analysis to water balance models and understanding physiological and molecular responses of plants to moisture stress. Therefore, there is need for a comprehensive approach towards addressing the issue of crop improvement for drought tolerance. From this context the mandate activities of the NAE are;

1. Drought characterization

Characterization of target drought prone environment forms the basis to choose the relevant drought traits to improve the adaptation. Besides, based on stress response the relevant drought traits have been characterized and a accumulated information provides greater insight on desirable traits and their importance. In addition gene centric database of stress responses upstream/functional genes has relevance.

Goal: Curate the published information to develop user friendly database (a) Drought prone environments (b) Stress response/stress responsive traits (c) Upstream/functional responsive genes.   

Approach: Access and curate meteorological data to synthesize and identify rainfed ecosystems and drought environments. Further, to develop database on stress responsive traits, curation of stress specific transcriptome ESTs and functional validation data.

Developed database on i) Stress response transcriptional factor database (STIFDB) and ii) Stress regulated transcriptional factor binding sites (STIF).

2. Crop improvement for drought adaptations

Major focus of this centers NAE program is genetic engineering to develop crop plants resistant to abiotic stress. Emphases are on basic and strategic research on stress responses of crops and adopt translational research approach to improve the productivity of mandate crops under water limited environments.

Although selection for higher absolute yields did provide the initial success, further breakthrough in improving crop productivity under drought would be possible only when constituent physiological traits are introgressed into a single elite genetic background. Significant progress made by our centre as well as several others has provided the required insight in identifying relevant drought tolerance traits. The relevance of these traits in improving drought tolerance and hence for increasing productivity has been well elucidated. However, the molecular mechanisms are yet to be deciphered. Therefore a comprehensive program was envisioned with focus on inter-related research activities. 

Goal: To identify genotypes with specific drought traits, genes that regulate drought tolerance mechanisms and QTL associations with multi gene traits and adopt transgene and molecular breeding tools to pyramid these traits into elite genetic background.

Approach: From the inter-related activities driving the program to achieve the objectives i) Develop and adapt high throughput phenotyping techniques ii) Gene prospecting iii) Mapping QTLs; and iv) Adapt transgene and MAS to pyramid the traits.

3. Evaluation of field performance and phenotyping for drought tolerance

The precise assessment of stress response of germplasm accession/breeding lines/improved varieties is still a major constraint. The empirical assessments under managed drought stress environment provide an option to achieve precise stress response evaluation. Besides, phenotyping for drought adaptation traits is crucial for identifying donor parents to identify QTLs for multi-genic traits.

Goal: Establish phenomic platform for empirical assessment for drought response and phenotyping for drought adaptive traits/mechanisms. Develop operative protocols/methods for use by the scientific community involved in drought research.

Approach: Develop tools/methods/establish required infrastructure for phenotyping for diverse traits. Finally establish phenomic platform.

4. Training on comprehensive exposure on inter-related areas of crop adaptation to moisture stress

Drought mitigation and crop improvement is national priority, which necessitates creation of expert manpower in this area. In this context, one of the activities of NAE has been to develop specialists in the area via MSc, PhD and post-doctoral program and also impart training to scientific community.

Goal: To develop specialist human resources (MSc/PhD/Postdoc) in envisioned mandate area of NAE. In addition provide short- and long-term exposure to scientific community.

 

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