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Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002

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Icrisat develops GM groundnut

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NEW DELHI, July 29

THE Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) has developed the first ever genetically modified groundnut, engineered to confer resistance to the Indian peanut clump (IPCV), which is widespread in the country.

``We have successfully genetically transformed groundnut by incorporating genes resistant to IPCV. The technology used has involved transferring the coat protein and ploymerase gene of the IPCV through agrobacterium tumefaciens media,'' Dr William D. Dar, Director-General of Icrisat, told presspersons here on Monday.

Dr Dar said the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has already according permission for conducting field trials of the genetically transformed groundnut under protected glasshouse conditions. ``These trials will take place for two years, followed by another two years of open field trials. Subsequently, the varieties can be released for commercial cultivation'', he added.

According to Dr Dar, IPCV — which is transmitted by a soil borne fungus, Polymyxa gramminis, is difficult to control because of its persistence in the soil for several years and the lack of suitable resistant genotypes. Despite screening of more than 10,000 lines of groundnut germplasm, no traditional sources of resistance to PCV have been identified yet.

``The genes that we have incorporated to achieve genetic transformation of the groundnut has been obtained from the Scottish Crops Research Institute, UK (SCRI). These genes were sequenced and cloned as part of a collaborative work between Icrisat and SCRI'', he said.

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