Background
• Facilites
 
 
 
 
About the consortium


Background

Micropropagation, a proven means of producing millions of identical plants by culturing plant tissues or organs under germ-free conditions, is an essential component of plant biotechnology.

India has pioneered a number of discoveries in the field of plant tissue culture. Unfortunately, most of these remained confined to the laboratory and were not fully utilized for commercial benefit till now.

Recently however, several plant tissue culture laboratories and commercial facilities have been set up, which are generating quite a large number of tissue culture-raised commercial crops and forest trees. However, India lacks organized testing of the quality of regenerants and freedom from viral comtamination. The most deleterious variants in tissue culture-raised plants are those that affect yields, quality, and carry viral infections that are difficult to diagnose.

To bridge the gap between research and the field and also to testing commercial crops, the DBT (Department of Biotechnology), Government of India, took the initiative of setting up pilot-scale facilities for mass cloning and testing.

 

Facilities

Micropropagation Technology Park

The main aim behind the establishment of Micropropagation Technology Parks was to serve as an interface between educational/research institutions and industrial units. In other words, research work supported by Department of Biotechnology and undertaken at other institutions would be translated into technologies, which could be applied at the field level. The proven technologies can then be passed on entrepreneurs/industry for further commercialization. The scope of the production facility was widened and diversified to cover horticultural species also, including fruit crops, ornamental, medicinal plants, and forestry species.

Keeping in view the pressing need for large-scale production of planting material of elite forest tree species, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India had set up two Tissue Culture Pilot Plants (TCPP) for mass propagation of forest tree species way back in 1989. In December 1997, the TCPPs were upgraded into a Micropropagation Technology Park (MTP).

MTP at TERI, Gual Pahari  
The main objective of this facility was to produce large-scale elite planting material of various forest species through tissue culture technology and thereby bridge the gap between the laboratory and the field. The MTP was to serve as an interface between educational/research institutions and industrial units. The Park has state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities ranging from modern laboratories, equipment, greenhouses and polyhouses, taking the annual production capacity to 2 million plants.
 

Till date, over 14 million plants have been supplied to various state forest departments, non-governmental organizations, agro-based companies, and private growers. Protocols have been developed for the micropropagation of a variety of species and procedures were refined for several others for their mass production. High survival, plant uniformity, and better growth rates have been achieved in tissue culture-raised plants as compared to conventional propagules.

Objectives

Demonstration of production and performance of elite forest tree species through tissue culture.
Development and refinement of tissue culture protocols of horticultural and other economically important species that are either difficult to propagate by conventional methods or show a marked variability.
To serve as a platform for effective transfer of proven technologies to entrepreneurs. This included providing the required infrastructure, know-how, training etc. needed for large-scale production.
To serve as a technology resource centre for upcoming/established tissue culture units.
To serve as a training centre for large-scale production of plant species.

Contact:
Dr Vibha Dhawan
Vice Chancellor
TERI University
Darbari Seth Block, India Habitat Centre
Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110 003
Telephone: 24682100; 24682111
Fax: 24682144; 24682145
E-mail vibhad@teri.res.in

Dr Sanjay Saxena
Fellow & Area Convener
Plant Tissue Culture & Molecular Biology
Biotechnology & Management of Bioresources Division
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
IHC Complex, Lodhi Road
New Delhi - 110 003
Telephone: 24682100; 24682111
Fax: 24682144; 24682145
E-mail sanjays@teri.res.in


MTP at NCL, Pune

This facility at NCL is well known for multifaceted research on a wide number of economically important plant species. The major focus is on application-oriented research resulting in transfer of technology from laboratory to land. The pilot plant assists industries in development of cash crops and ornamentals as well as government agencies in social and agro-forestry missions.

The group has activities in the area of tissue culture of forest tree species, fruit tree species, plantation crops, medicinal plants, cereals, oil seed crops, conifers and other economically important plant species. The Pilot Plant was upgraded with the objectives of upscaling micropropagation protocols and conducting multilocation field verification trials on tissue culture raised plants of commercially important forest tree species such as teak (Tectona grandis), eucalyptus (E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis) and bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus).
   
Under this programme, extensive research was carried out to refine the protocol for micropropagation of 'plus' trees. Accordingly, cost effective protocols have been developed for all the species. The protocols are now available for commercial exploitation. A three-step in vitro process was modified to a two-step process where ex vitro rooting procedure was developed. So far, over a million eucalyptus, teak and bamboo plants have been supplied to forest departments, forestry agencies, agricultural universities, private entrepreneurs and farmers. These plants are undergoing field trials covering an area of more than 1000 hectares of land. In all the species grown by tissue culture the growth rate has increased by an average of 20%. These trials have also confirmed the suitability of new locations for specific clones for achieving a higher growth ratio. Clonal homogeneity has been confirmed using RFLP/RAPD techniques and genetic gardens have been established at NCL, Pune. Seed orchards have also been established at five different locations in the state of Maharashtra.

Contact:
Dr S Kendurkar
Tissue Culture Pilot Plant
National Chemical Laboratory
Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan
Pune - 411008
Maharashtra
Telephone: 020-5893338(O); 5881542(R)
Fax: 020-5893338(F)
E-mail: rsn@ems.ncl.res.in

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National Facility for Virus Diagnosis and Quality Control of Tissue Culture Raised Plants, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
In India, several plant tissue culture laboratories and commercial facilities have been set up recently, and they have been growing a large number of tissue culture raised plants of commercial crops and forest trees. However, there are no facilities to establish their quality or that the regenerants are virus free. The most deleterious variants in tissue culture raised plants are those that affect yields, quality and carry infection of viruses which are difficult to diagnose. To bridge the gap, the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India has established a multi-Institutional collaborative programme with the goal of ensuring production of virus-free plants of assured quality raised through tissue culture. The main centre is at IARI, New Delhi with five satellite centres at NCL, Pune; TERI, New Delhi; IHBT, Palampur; IIHR, Bangalore and SPIC,Chennai.
   

Objectives

To develop protocols for virus diagnosis and quality testing for clonal fidelity.
To ensure that tissue culture-raised plants are virus-free and of an assured quality.

As per the project objective, the centres are concentrating on virus diagnosis of horticultural (both fruits and ornamentals) and plantation crops, specially spices. Studies continued on isolation and maintenance of authentic cultures of plant viruses, development of diagnostic kit and standardization of diagnostic protocols for virus detection.

Tissue culture-raised plants are tested for clonal fidelity using standard molecular marker techniques for DNA fingerprinting such as RAPD, RFLP, AFLP, SSR.

The centres under the facility are continuing their work on developing diagnostic kits and standardizing quality testing parameters/markers for the identified plants. Based on the users needs, some new crops have also been identified. The certification format has been evolved in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the centres will be notified as testing centres as per existing plant quarantine procedure. Guidelines for assessment of quality are being formulated. Interaction with industry is continuously being strengthened.

Contact:
Professor Anupam Varma
Coordinator, NFVD&QC
Advanced Centre for Plant Virology
Division of Plant Pathology
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
New Delhi- 110 012
Email: anupamvarma@vsnl.net, anupamvarma@netkracker.com


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Hardening Units

There are six Regional Hardening Units functioning to provide quality planting material according to the region’s needs.

At JN Vyas University, Jodhpur, micropropagation protocols have been perfected for the arid zone species. Large scale production has been done for Celastrus paniculatus and Leptadeni reticulata. A number of user agencies have been identified for field plantation and demonstration. 1.25 lakh plantlets of these species were ready in the year 2002 for field transfer.

The Unit at WBCOST, Kolkata, successfully completed the first phase of support and two lakh plantlets of important horticultural and medicinal plants were produced for user agencies. The Unit has also been successful in creating awareness amongst industries/state departments and a number of training programmes etc., have been conducted. The WBCOST is now maintaining the unit; support for second phase has been provided for plantlet production and documentation at the rural level.

At TERI’s North-East Facility in Guwahati, large-scale production of important horticultural crops continued. Need-based research and protocol refinement is also being carried out.

Another regional Hardening Unit has been set up at the Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu for large-scale production of medicinal and aromatic plants and horticultural crops.

A Unit for micropropagation and scaling-up, hardening and establishment of bamboo and other floricultural species was set up at the Regional Plant Resource Centre, Bhubaneswar.

A Hardening Unit was set up at the G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora for establishing and providing planting material of endangered species.

At the Haryana Council for S&T, Hisar, the facility is fully operational and the state government has constructed laboratories and greenhouses. Large-scale production of sugarcane, eucalyptus and horticultural crops has been initiated. Plantlets have been provided to user agencies and state departments. A number of demonstration programmes have been conducted.

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Others

Biotech parks are being established in Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and other places to promote R&D in all aspects of biotechnology. The activities in the bio-tech park will include exploitation of technologies available from various research institutes and manufacturing of plant tissue culture, hybrid seed production, bio-drugs, antibiotics, vaccines, organic acids and industrial enzymes.

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