Unveiling New Horizons in Wheat Research: PAU’s Breakthrough Project

by Dr. Jasneet Bedi

In a significant stride towards enhancing wheat resilience and quality, the School of Agricultural Biotechnology (SAB) at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has clinched a prestigious three-year research project. Titled “Enriching the rust resistance of wheat by mapping the novel leaf rust and stripe rust resistance from multiple wild progenitor and non-progenitor species,” this initiative is backed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi.

Dr. Satinder Kaur, the Principal Investigator, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Secretary of DBT and Dr. Sanjay Kalia, Scientist at DBT, for their pivotal role in securing this project. At its core, the project endeavors to chart new territories in wheat rust resistance by harnessing cutting-edge sequencing technologies. Moreover, it aims to cultivate a cadre of young researchers adept in the latest methodologies.

Dr. Kaur shed light on SAB’s pioneering role in preserving the largest collection of wild wheat species in India. Leveraging this genetic reservoir, the school has previously integrated over 30 disease-resistant genes into cultivated wheat, a feat that underscores its commitment to agricultural advancement.

Through the newly funded project, the team seeks to introduce and map newly identified genes into wheat varieties, augmenting them with existing resistance genes. This strategy holds promise in conferring enduring protection against rust diseases, crucial in the face of evolving pathogen races.

Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, PAU’s Vice-Chancellor, and Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, Director of Research, lauded the team’s achievement, emphasizing its significance in fortifying wheat against prevalent and emerging threats. They expressed optimism that this grant would bolster PAU’s pre-breeding program, particularly in enhancing wheat’s disease resistance.

Dr. Parveen Chhuneja, Director of SAB and a key member of the project team, highlighted the school’s four-decade-long commitment to wheat wide hybridization. This sustained effort has not only improved wheat quality and resilience within PAU’s germplasm but also exemplifies its dedication to addressing diverse biotic and abiotic stresses.

As PAU’s School of Agricultural Biotechnology embarks on this ambitious endeavor, it not only reaffirms its position as a vanguard of agricultural innovation but also underscores the pivotal role of research in ensuring food security and sustainability in India and beyond.

Dr. Jasneet Bedi

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