We are starting this new section to make you acquaintance with the current scenarios and development happening in Agricultural Sectors in monthly basis. These Agri-Updates and Current Affairs should be proved as very much beneficial to any Competitive Examination of Agriculture and Allied Sciences.
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ICAR launched “Krishi Megh” with “Accreditation Portal” & “Alumni Network Portal”
Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar has inaugurated the “Krishi Megh” (“NARES-Cloud Infrastructure and Services”) along with “Accreditation Portal” and “Alumni Network Portal” virtually on 11th August 2020. The “Krishi Megh” having two components viz. (a). ICAR Data Centre (DC) with HCI infrastructure & GPU Server having Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities at ICAR-IASRI and (b.) ICAR Disaster Recovery (DR) Centre established at ICAR- NAARM under NAHEP Project. The “Accreditation Portal” will facilitate online process for the accreditation of Higher Agricultural Educational Institutions. The “Alumni Network Portal” (https://alumni.icar.gov.in) will facilitate management of alumni of Agricultural Universities.
Country’s first Kisan Rail flagged off from Deolali in Maharashtra
India’s first ever weekly Kisan Rail was flagged off by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar along with Railways minister Piyush Goyal from Maharashtra’s Deolali to Bihar’s Danapur. This is part of the government’s plan to build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, inclusive of milk, meat and fish. Indian Railways has set up Kisan Rail through PPP arrangements.
India ranks first in number of organic farmers, 9th in area
Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India in a press release informed that India ranks first in the number of organic farmers and ninth in terms of area under organic farming. Sikkim became the first state to become fully organic and Tripura and Uttarakhand have set similar targets. Major organic exports from India are flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses. The organic exports in 2018-19 reached Rs 5151 crore. To assist farmers to adopt organic farming and improve remunerations due to premium prices, two dedicated programs namely Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched in 2015. The organic e-commerce platform www.jaivikkheti.in is being strengthened for directly linking farmers with retail as well as bulk buyers.
Farm exports up 23% despite COVID-19 crisis
Sustaining global food supply chain amid Covid-19 situation, India’s export of agricultural commodities during March-June period increased by 23% compared to corresponding period last year. In value terms, the exports of agri commodities during March-June were Rs 25,552 crore against an export of Rs 20,734 crore during the same period in 2019. The increase is attributed primarily to export of wheat, Bengal gram, groundnut oil and tur (pigeon peas). In 2019-20, India exported agricultural & allied products worth Rs 2.52 lakh crore against imports of Rs 1.47 lakh crore.
Monopoly of APMCs over in Maharashtra: Now Farmers can sell their produce to anyone
The Maharashtra state government has introduced a set of reforms in agricultural trade. This will put an end to APMCs’ monopoly over agricultural trade and enable farmers to sell their products to anyone. Farmers now can sell grains, cereals, oilseeds and pulses directly to individual buyers and corporate clients. The state government’s move followed the Centre’s decision to this effect in June. Back in June 2016, the previous government had freed fruits and vegetable from the control of APMC.
PM launches financing facility worth Rs 1 lakh crore under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
PM Narendra Modi launched a new Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of INR 100,000 crore. The scheme aims to support farmers, PACS, FPOs, Agri- entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure. The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects through interest subvention and credit guarantee. The duration of the scheme shall be from FY 2020 to FY 2029 (10 years). Under the scheme, INR 1 lakh crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3 % per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE scheme for loans up to INR 2 crore.
State of the art Honey testing lab inaugurated in Anand, Gujarat
A ‘World Class State of Art Honey Testing Laboratory’ established by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Anand (Gujarat) with support of National Bee Board (NBB). Speaking on this event Mr. Tomar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare told that it is part of governments effort to bring sweet revolution in the country by encouraging large number of farmers for production and marketing of honey and earn more profit in agriculture and for which ministry has approved the National Bee Keeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) for a period of 2 years.
Alert on suspicious seed parcels, possibly of Chinese origin
India’s agriculture ministry has put all state governments, seed corporations, certification agencies, producers and agriculture universities on alert following the news of mysterious, unsolicited seed packets reaching the mailboxes of several citizens in US and Canada from Chinese addresses. The notification issued on 6 August quoted a report by the US Department of Agriculture, which called this a “brushing scam” and “agricultural smuggling”, and stated that it can be a “threat to the biodiversity” of a country.
Acreage under Rice, Pulses and Oilseeds have increased in this Kharif season
As the Kharif sowing season draws to a close, the acreages under crops such as rice, pulses, coarse cereals, oilseeds etc. have seen a rise this year, says the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare. Area under rice cultivation was 274.19 lakh ha during Kharif season of last year, which has reached about 321.79 lakh ha, a 47.60 lakh ha increase in area. Similarly, area under pulses has increased from 114.77 lakh ha to about 119.59 lakh ha area; area under coarse cereals has increased from 154.77 lakh ha to about 160.43 lakh ha area; area under oilseeds has increased from 156.75 lakh ha to about 181.07 lakh ha and area under sugarcane have increased from 51.33 lakh ha to about 51.95 lakh ha during the corresponding period.
‘Monks’ of Jamia Millia Islamia bags 1st prize at Smart India Hackathon 2020 for Crop Prediction Model
A team of six students from Jamia Millia Islamia named “Monks” has won at Smart India hackathon 2020 software edition, organized by the innovation cell of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The team prepared software for the Government of Bihar that estimates crop patterns for the upcoming year thus helping the government in formulating the policies in advance and tackle any problems at the earliest. The problem statement of the hackathon was ‘Develop a real-time land usage monitoring tool using satellite data and artificial intelligence’. In this software two systems are combined to solve a problem: (i) Land Usage System to determine the category of land and, (ii) Crop Prediction Model which uses four categories viz., moisture of the land, humidity, NDVI (normalised difference vegetation index) and minerals.
National Agriculturally Important Microbial Culture Collection (NAIMCC) acquired the status of International Depository Authority (IDA), to become the 3rd IDA in country
The National Agriculturally Important Microbial Culture Collection (NAIMCC), a unit of the ICAR- National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms (ICAR-NBAIM), Maunath Bhanjan, Uttar Pradesh under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research has acquired the status of International Depository Authority (IDA) by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, under Article 7 (1) of the Budapest treaty, which 82 countries are part of and was signed in 1977 for depositing the microorganisms in culture collection centres for patent procedure. The NAIMCC will be entrusted for conserving the microorganisms used to develop patents and also conserving the newly described microbial taxa as a requirement for valid taxonomic publication and, it will be the third IDA of the country after Microbial Type Culture Collection (MTCC), Chandigarh and National Centre for Microbial Resources (NCMR), Pune.
IFFCO Bazar turnover crosses Rs 500 crore in first 4 months, 63 % higher than last year
The IFFCO subsidiary- IFFCO Bazar which had started full scale commercial operations started in April, 2016 has crossed the Rs 500 crore sale turnover in just four months in this fiscal, which is 63 % more than the turnover during the same period last year. The IFFCO Bazar is a one stop shop catering to the farmers’ requirements of fertilizers, seeds, agro chemicals, pesticides and agricultural tools etc. and also provides other Products & Services such as Health Check-up, Micro Banking, solar LED lights, etc. The IFFCO has recently announced that IFFCO e-Bazar products will sales through Common Services Centers (CSC), a Government of India initiative.
Gujarat too exits Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, launches alternative State-funded scheme
Citing the exorbitantly high premiums charged by companies for the crop insurance plan Gujarat has decided to leave the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) which was launched back in 2016. Besides Gujarat and Bihar, West Bengal has exited the scheme, while Punjab did not implement it at all. Gujarat state government has launched an alternative State-funded scheme Mukhya Mantri Kisan Sahay Yojana covering all farmers under crop insurance with zero premium.
Government proposes separate emission norms for agriculture machinery and construction equipment
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has issued draft notification for separate emission norms for agriculture machinery and construction equipment vehicles. The notification also aims at changing the nomenclature of emission norms from Bharat Stage (CEV/TREM)-IV and Bharat Stage (CEV/TREM) -V to TREM Stage-IV and TREM Stage-V for agricultural tractors and other equipment and CEV Stage – IV and CEV Stage-V for the construction equipment vehicles. This may help to avoid confusion with emission norms of other vehicles.
India ranks third in terms of gaining forest areas in the last decade: Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA)
According to the latest Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) brought out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) India ranked third among the top 10 countries that have gained in forest areas in the last decade, after China and Australia. FAO has brought out this comprehensive assessment every five years since 1990 which assesses the state of forests, their conditions and management for all member countries. India now accounts for two per cent of total global forest area, with 0.38 per cent annual gain in forest, or 266000 ha of forest increase every year at an average. The FRA 2020 has credited the government’s Joint Forest Management programme for the significant increase in community- managed forest areas in the Asian continent.
NITI Aayog’s task force recommends linking sugarcane prices to sugar prices and reducing the area under sugar cultivation in the country
NITI Aayog has published final Report of the Task Force on Sugarcane and Sugar Industry. This report has recommended linking sugarcane prices to sugar prices; shifting of some area under sugarcane cultivation to less water-intensive crops; adoption of drip irrigation in place of flood irrigation in Maharashtra and States in South India; support and enhance the technology and adoption of ethanol blending; and a one-time increase in minimum sugar price to Rs 33 per kilo.
Amul Dairy initiates India’s first digitalization in artificial insemination
Amul Dairy has decided to digitize the artificial insemination service in its operational area which started on an experimental basis in the year 2019. There is no need to keep physical record by milk producer as all the information is stored by Amul Dairy through software system. Amul Dairy performs more than 1 million artificial insemination annually in milk shed area.
Kerala lost 6.25 lakh hectares of paddy land in 32 years, 2.05 lakh ha now remain
As per the Department of Agriculture, Kerala area under paddy cultivation has reduced by 6.25 lakh hectares in the state in last 32 years. During 1955-56, the state had 7.60 lakh hectares of paddy, now, there is paddy on 2.05 lakh hectare only. The paddy cultivation was affected badly due to the Ockhi cyclone of 2017, the dry spell of the same, and the floods of 2018 and 2019. Kerala needs 40 lakh tonnes of rice annually but the production accounts for only 8 lakh tonnes so rice is imported from Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh.
Mini trade deal ‘stuck’ as USA now wants India to buy $6 billion of agriculture, dairy goods
The proposed ‘mini’ trade deal between the US and India has stuck yet again as Washington wants New Delhi to buy dairy and agriculture products worth $6 billion. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has now demanded that India has to give “business equivalent of that amount” to the US for the restoration of the trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. India has been pushing the US to restore the GSP trade benefits since they were suspended in June last year. India used to get benefits worth around $6 billion out of the $46 billion worth of goods it exports to the USA by means of zero or reduced tariffs on 2,167 products. This move will appeal to the farming and dairy community vote bank.
Punjab CM urges PM not to allow GI tagging for Madhya Pradesh basmati
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged not to allow geographical indication (GI) tagging of basmati to Madhya Pradesh, in the larger interest of Punjab and other states (Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir) that already have GI tag for basmati. He said India exports basmati to the tune of Rs 33,000 crore every year and any dilution in registration of Indian basmati may give advantage to Pakistan (which also produces basmati as per GI tagging) in the international market in terms of characteristics and quality parameters. MP had earlier attempted to get the GI tag for basmati cultivation in 2017-18, which was rejected by the Registrar of Geographical Indications (RGI), constituted under the geographical indications of goods (Registrations and Protection) Act 1999.
Centre hiked Sugar FRP to ₹285 per quintal
Based on the decision of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Centre has hiked the minimum price that sugar mills must pay to cane farmers by ₹10 per quintal for the 2020-21 sugar season, which runs from October to September. The Fair and Remunerative Price for sugarcane has been set at ₹285/quintal, in comparison to the previous year’s rate of ₹275/quintal, for mills which have a sugar recovery rate of 10%. A premium of ₹2.85 per quintal will be paid for every 0.1% increase above the 10% sugar recovery rate, while a similar reduction will be levied for lower rates. For mills with recovery of 9.5% or below, however, the FRP has been fixed at ₹270.75 per quintal.
Florida plans to release more than 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes
Florida state in US plans to release more than 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes over the next two years. This is part of the pilot project, designed to test if a genetically modified mosquito is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides to control the Aedes aegypti, notoriously known to spread deadly diseases such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. In May this year, the US Environmental Agency granted permission to the British-based, US-operated company Oxitec to produce the genetically engineered, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These male mosquitoes do not carry the diseases as they feed on nectar, and they’re genetically modified to carry a protein that will inhibit the survival of their female offspring when they mate with wild female mosquitoes.
Black tea prices surge 42% from a year earlier, making the brew dearer for consumers in the midst of the pandemic
According to Tea Board India, prices hiked as production declined due to lockdown and heavy rains that damaged the tea crop in Assam and West Bengal in June and July. Output dwindled by 26% to 348 million kg in the first half of 2020 from a year earlier. The price increase has been mainly in the common CTC (crush, tear, curl) leaf and dust category, which has prompted many planters to shift from orthodox teas to CTC tea production.
Maharashtra model ‘Jal Kranti’ has the potential to change farmers’ fate, fast-track highways network: Nitin Gadkari
‘Jal Kranti’, a brainchild of the Road Transport, Highways and MSME Minister Gadkari, involves excavation or dredging of ponds in drought-prone areas to ensure rainwater harvesting and recharge of groundwater. The dredging is done by the highways ministry free of cost in lieu of sand, deposits and aggregates to be used for highways construction. Gadkari said the ‘Jal Kranti’ initiative in Maharashtra that changed the face of drought-prone districts like Buldhana, if replicated across the country, can not only change farmers’ fate but also strengthen the highways network. It has ensured adequate water availability for irrigation and drinking purposes and at the same time soil and sand has been made available to NHAI for highways construction.
MS Swaminathan Research Foundation imitated GOD Trees campaign to protect indigenous trees in Kerala
The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has started a GOD Trees (Growing Our Dying Trees) campaign to plant and protect 100 species of rare, endangered and threatened (RET) trees, in the sacred groves (kavu) of Kerala and endemic to the Western Ghats. Saplings of 50 rare and endangered species had been raised through silviculture that got A-level accreditation under the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Programme. The critically endangered Hopea erosa, Cynometra beddomei, and Sageraea grandiflora are among the saplings raised.
‘Urban Forest’ launched in Delhi
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on 2nd July 2020 launched the first Urban Forest in Delhi as a part of Nagar Van scheme. The forest is spread over 4,200 square meters that has been created using Miyawaki method, named after Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki and is supposed to have 1,200 trees of 59 indigenous species and lower temperature of surroundings by 140 C when fully developed.
Government puts curbs on import of power tillers, its components
Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has placed the imports of power tillers and their components in the restricted category from free earlier on 16th July 2020. As per the new regulations, the cumulative value of authorisation issued to any firm/all firms in a year would not be exceeding 10% of the value of power tillers imported during the past year (2019-20) by that company and also only the manufactures who are in business for three years and have sold a minimum of 100 power tillers in the past 3 years will be eligible to apply for import authorisation.
Award for Coimbatore Scientist for research on sacred groves
Kannan C S Warrier received 2019 National Award of excellence for outstanding research in forestry, for conservation of endangered sacred groves in the Alappuzha district of Kerala. He has enumerated 1128 sacred groves in Alappuzha and also has released three productive salt-tolerant clones of the casuarina tree that are suitable for sodic soils for the first time in the country. Currently, he is working on clones of crook-free poovarasu (portia) trees which is referred to as the poor man’s teak: a big boon to the farmer.”
After KALIA Yojana, Odisha brings Balaram Yojana
Odisha government has launched ‘Balaram Yojana’ on 2nd July 2020 to provide crop loans to 7 lakh landless farmers in the next two years through joint liability groups (JLGs). A total of Rs 1,040 crore has been set aside for the scheme which will be coordinated by the Institute on Management of Agricultural Extension (IMAGE) at the state level, Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) at the district level and 7,000 branches of several banks and Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies at the rural and small towns level.
Two agricultural experts from India named by UN chief to Scientific group for 2021 Food Summit
Prof Rattan Lal of Ohio State University and Dr. Uma Lele of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) from India have been named members of International Scientific group Chaired by Dr. Joachim von Braun of Bonn University Germany to offer foremost scientific evidence for sustainable food systems for global food summit 2021. It aims to raise awareness about the food system challenges to be solved by the nations and to change food systems to provide safe and nutritious food around the globe.
Rajasthan launches campaign to ensure purity of milk dairy products
The Rajasthan state government launched a week-long campaign “Pure for Sure” from July 8-14 July, 2020 to ensure purity of milk and its products. Under the campaign samples of milk and dairy products will be collected for testing at Food Testing Laboratory available and information related to samples will be provided by the food safety officers on the FSSAI app on daily basis.
Indian-American scientist appointed acting head of top US agriculture research organisation
Indian-American scientist Dr Parag Chitnis has been appointed the Acting Director of the prestigious National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which drives all federally funded agricultural research in the US. Earlier he served as the Associate Director for Programmes and has lead implementation of NIFA’s approximately USD 1.7 billion research projects.
India in partnership with Chile & UN’s FAO Co-Hosted Event, “On the road to the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021”
India joined Chile and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) to co-host the High-Level Political Forum side-event ‘On the road to the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021: Highlighting health and nutritional benefits through sustainable production and consumption of fruits and vegetables’ on 13th July 2020.
Now ‘ICAR-IIHR Seed Portal’ is integrated with YONO Krishi web application of SBI
The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, launched the integration of ICAR-IIHR Seed Portal with YONO Krishi web application of State Bank of India on 26th August 2020.
Satellite data will be used to assess credit worthiness of farmers: innovative initiatives by ICICI Bank
ICICI Bank will use satellite data from Earth observation satellites to assess credit worthiness of its customers belonging to the farm sector. A pilot study in over 500 villages in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat has been already done and now ICICI plans to scale up the initiative to over 63,000 villages across the country soon. The satellite data will provide information on rainfall, temperature, soil moisture levels, surface water availability, crop sowing, tentative sowing and harvesting times, crop health and yields, agriculture land location details including boundary of the land as well as nearby locations of warehouses and mandis.
UK launches campaign to tackle obesity ‘time bomb’
Britain unveiled plans to tackle an “obesity time bomb” on 24 August 2020. The government plans to introduce a ban on showing junk food adverts on television before 9 p.m., ending “buy one get one free” deals on such foods and putting calories on menus.
HDFC launches Shaurya Kisan Gold Card for armed forces
HDFC Bank on 14th August 2020 launched Shaurya Kisan gold card (KGC), targeted over 45 lakh military and paramilitary professionals for catering to their family’s agricultural needs. Shaurya KGC will come with an insurance cover of Rs. 10 lakh. This card will provide finance for production of crop, post-harvest maintenance and consumption needs. Customers can also avail of this funding to purchase farm machinery, irrigation equipment or construct storages structures.
Agriota e-marketplace will connect Indian rural farmers with UAE food industry
Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a global free zone in collaboration with India’s CropData Technology have launched Agriota, a tech-driven agri-commodity trading and sourcing platform. Agriota E-Marketplace uses blockchain technology which will provide end to end traceability and transparency. This platform will connect Indian farmers with UAE food industry.
PM Modi announced this September as nutrition month
PM Modi in ‘Maan ki Baat’ programme on 30 August stated that this September will be observed as Nutrition Month in the entire nation, he called for an increased focus on the value of quality nutrition. Prime Minister highlighted the importance of public participation in the Nutrition movement.
Agriculture Replaced Fossil fuels as Sulfur ‘s primary Human Source in the Environments
A new study published in Nature Geoscience identifies fertilizer and pesticide applications to croplands as a major yet under-studied environmental perturbation. This study was based on four contrasting case studies from across the United States. Authors opinioned that long-term sulfur application to crops are likely to have similar consequences for the soil health and downstream aquatic ecosystems as those found in regions historically impacted by acid rain, yet the cascade of effects has not been broadly explored. More researches are required to examine the integrated roles of climate, hydrology and other element cycles in modifying sulfur processes and flows within and downgradient of agricultural source areas in collaboration with the farmers, regulating authorities and land managers.
ICAR-NBAIR, Bengaluru develops Innovative Biocontrol Strategies to curtail dangerous Invasive Rugose Spiraling Whitefly of Coconut
Rugose Spiralling Whitefly (RSW), Aleurodicus rugioperculatus Martin is a polyphagous invasive pest on coconut which has rapidly spread to all coconut growing Districts in India since its first reporting in 2016. Spraying of chemical pesticides did not yield much success so scientists in ICAR-National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, Bengaluru resorted to the aphelinid parasitoid Encarsia guadeloupae causing natural parasitism of 56% to 82%. The farmers were trained in identifying, mass production and distribution of the parasitoid and were strictly advised not to apply the chemical pesticides. The growers were advised to grow Banana and Canna indica as banker plants, parasitoids multiplied rapidly and natural parasitism increased phenomenally, thus, preventing the severe outbreaks. In a breakthrough, the ICAR-NBAIR identified and developed a highly effective entomopathogenic fungus, Isaria fumosorosea (ICAR-NBAIR pfu-5) which was effective in killing all the life stages of the pest with pest mortality recorded was up to 91%.
Scientists have decoded the full genome for the black mustard plant
An international team led by the Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has decoded the full genome for the black mustard (Brassica nigra) plant. The team has used a new genome sequencing technology (Nanopore) that results in very long “reads” of DNA and RNA sequences, providing information for crop breeding that was previously not available. The result may help in advance breeding of oilseed mustard crops and provides a foundation for improved breeding of wheat, canola and lentils. The team also uncovered the first direct evidence of functional centromeres, structures on chromosomes essential for plant fertility, and detected other previously hard to identify regions of the genome.
Climate change may put tropical plant germination at risk
According to an analysis of seed germination data compiled by the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew under a worst-case climate change scenario, more than 20% of plant species in the tropics may experience temperatures too high for their seeds to germinate and over half of tropical species may see reduced rates of germination by 2070, as soil temperatures may become too high for them to germinate. The analysis shows that 26% of tropical species and 10% of temperate species are already experiencing temperatures above their optimum. Plants that find themselves outside of optimum or tolerable temperature ranges may be able to migrate to higher latitudes or altitudes, and existing diversity can offer a reservoir of genetic variation for species to adapt, but physiological limits and long generation times may mean even diverse species struggle.
Lesquerella, a Mustard Family Member Seen as Source of Butanol, cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline
A team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers from National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, hopes Lesquerella, a member of the mustard family can be a source of butanol. Lesquerella first caught Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists’ (USDA) attention years ago for the high hydroxy fatty acid content of its oil, which is critical to making high- quality lubricants, paints and other products. But, the resulting presscake (the crushed remains of lesquerella seed whose oil has been extracted) is not suitable for livestock fed due to its nutrient-blocking properties, and landfilling poses a waste disposal problem.
Scientists from Japan identified two antagonistic genes control rice plant height
A team of scientists at Nagoya University in Japan have found two antagonistic genes involved in rice plant stem growth which could lead to new methods for genetically modifying rice crops. They published their paper ‘Antagonistic regulation of the gibberellic acid response during stem growth in rice’ in the nature journal. They identified ACE1 (ACCELERATOR OF INTERNODE ELONGATION 1) gene which confers cells of the intercalary meristematic region with the competence for cell division, leading to internode elongation in the presence of gibberellic acid. By contrast, upregulation of another identified gene DEC1 (DECELERATOR OF INTERNODE ELONGATION 1) which encodes a zinc-finger transcription factor, suppresses internode elongation, whereas downregulation of DEC1 allows internode elongation.
The weak allele SD1-EQ from Japonica rice may be beneficial for super Indica rice breeding
A group of scientists from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences have re-synthesized the concept of high yielding super rice development in the background of green revolution. They found that the Green Revolution gene SD1 has pleiotropic function (a gene having control over multiple phenotype) on tiller number and spikelets per panicle, along with plant height in rice. This study provides evidence that the weak functional SD1 allele from japonica rice cultivar ‘Np’, SD1-EQ, is an excellent genetic resource for the improvement of indica rice lines with null alleles of SD1, in the post-Green Revolution era. The findings have been published in Molecular Breeding journal.
Microalgae (seaweed): A potential bio-stimulant in agriculture
A team of scientists from Italy and Cyprus argued that ‘microalgae’ can be used in different economically productive ways from using as additive in nutritious diet to use as bio-stimulant for several life processes like enhancing germination, seedling growth, whole plant growth, increase productivity, high nutrient use efficiency, as well as tolerance to a wide range of abiotic stresses (salt, drought, heat, cold and heavy metals etc.). But due to lack of awareness among researchers as well as farmers the development of these products in terms of formulation and application has not reached the expected optima. In the era of organic agriculture, research in this area through standardization of the production processes and explicating the molecular and physiological mechanism of action will pace the field of agriculture with increasing productivity and quality of produce.
Immunomodulators or host-defense peptides (HDPs): New concept in plant science
Researcher from France has raised awareness about a relatively new concept ‘host-defense peptides in plant science’ research. Plants generally possess two types of defence system (Antimicrobial Proteins and Elicitor Peptides) but both are known to have no immunomodulation mechanism. Unlike plant science, animal medical science is well known with this concept of HDP, i.e. identify and kill the pathogen at the same time through modulation by mechanism. But understanding the molecular mechanism of existing antimicrobial proteins having immunomodulation activity and potential elicitor proteins having antimicrobial activity can generate important information that indeed can be helpful in crop improvement in terms of disease resistant phenotype.
High photosynthetic return: A possible way
Scientists from the University of Essex have resolute two major photosynthetic bottlenecks to boost plant productivity by 27 per cent in field conditions and developed a model by manipulating key players of dark and light reaction centers. Plastocyanin (a movable electron transporters at light reaction) share the load besides of cytochrome c6 (more efficient electron transporter) to enhance the chemical transformation of light. On the other hand, high expression of Kelvin cycle key enzyme (SBPase) can leads to high C-fixation in the form of sugar. Together these modulations can increase water use efficiency in photosystem in plants.
Research helps explain source of pathogen that causes bitter rot disease
Colletotrichum fioriniae causes diseases, often called anthracnoses, in more than 100 fruit and vegetable plants under warm and wet conditions and cause bitter rot disease. A study conducted in Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences reported that overall C. fioriniae was an abundant leaf endophyte, with high variation in leaf colonization area. Previously it was thought to originate mostly from diseased fruits and twigs. This discovery will have important implications for management of this disease effectively.
Researchers discovered plant hormone like role of ethylene precursor ACC in pollination
The effects of phytohormone ethylene on plant growth and development are very well known. A team of researchers has demonstrated that 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) exhibits ethylene- independent signalling in Arabidopsis thaliana (a member of the Brassicaceae family and widely used as a model organism in plant biology) reproduction. Researchers show that ACC has a critical role in pollination and seed production by activating proteins. These findings uncover a novel ACC function and provide insights for unravelling new physiological implications of ACC in plants. The study has been published in the Nature Communications journal.
Gene manipulation using algae could grow more crops with less water
In a study recently published in the Nature Plants journal, scientists used genetic manipulation processes to increase an enzyme that already exists within the tobacco plant, introduce a new enzyme from cyanobacteria (fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase/sedoheptulose-1,7-bisphosphatase), and to introduce a protein from red algae (cytochrome c6). When the plants were modified in this way, their ability to increase the rate of photosynthetic carbon assimilation and plant biomass was observed. To the surprise of the researchers, the transgenic plants also needed much less water to produce higher yields.
Structure of mtETC Complex I module is now known for plant system also
The atomic structure of mitochondrial Complex I of Electron Transport Chain in Plants have been deduced by a group of scientists from the University of California Davis. To separate chloroplast from interfering the research, dark grown and bleached plants were used for detection. Significant differences in core and accessory subunits of the plant complex are detected in compared to animal systems as found earlier.
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