Monday, 13 July 2015

NIPGR: Introduction and Mission

The National Institute of Plant Genome Research was established in 1998 as a DBT-aided autonomous institution with the mission to undertake, aid, promote, guide and coordinate research of high caliber in basic and applied plant molecular biology.  All biological research has been permeated by genomics and, as a result, new ways of understanding plant life and tailoring crops by genomic enhancement are emerging.  NIPGR has nurtured different areas of Plant Molecular Biology and grown into a vibrant institution for plant genomics education and research which has provided novel options for genetic improvement of agricultural output in terms of quality and quantity.

We are living in an era of rapid scientific innovation and gains.  A young institution like ours has the opportunity to make use of this window to take up the challenge of creating new knowledge worthy of translation into such resources which can be evaluated to perform better in the real space.  The challenge is to select appropriate areas of activity, create synergy in the action and interface with National Agriculture Research System or industry to translate the outcome into social benefits.  The Institute has carefully selected some of the areas of activity after wide consultations and recognizing the strength of the Institute.  Focus has been on programmes involving multiple groups of Scientists within the Institute, while providing them space for individual creativity, and collaborations have been established with other institutions and industries in India and outside.

The vision of NIPGR is to generate new knowledge in the area of plant genomics, assimilate it with current knowledge and translate the same for genetic enhancement of plants for social benefits.  NIPGR is growing into a vibrant institution and we expect to make such academic and innovative contributions which are recognized world over and are able to contribute to the upliftment of farmers and less endowed people in India.

The research programmes being pursued in the Institute are grouped in areas like Computational Biology, Genome Analysis and Molecular Breeding, Molecular Mechanisms of Abiotic Stress Response, Nutritional Genomics, Plant Development & Architecture, Molecular Breeding and Plant Immunity.  Our major target crops include chickpea, rice and tomato.  NIPGR contributed to the sequencing of entire tomato genome and has acquired the capacity to sequence and generate de novo genome-wide assembly in Next Generation Challenge Programme on Chickpea Genomics.  We have also discovered and demonstrated use of several novel genes for enhanced nutrition, better shelf-life, abiotic stress tolerance and appropriate plant architecture.  Our efforts on proteomics have been highly rewarding in defining function of stress-related genes.  Another important area of research involves marker development to assist molecular breeding and plant immune response to pathogens causing diseases like blast and blight.

NIPGR always tries to map and incorporate the components which propel the institution to strive for excellence.  DBT has always been supportive in enriching institution with such elements and the innovative ideas, which emerge from the advice of experienced brains serving on various institutional committees.  We would like to see the biotechnology recognized as “strategic area” to draw upon the “positive energy” it brings.  We would also like to see participation of industry in our strategic research from the beginning and share the responsibility of translating the same into useful products.

There is no doubt that more input in agriculture biotechnology will improve the impact of biotechnology in India.  There is a need of strengthening biotechnology institutions, creation of vibrant biotechnology education & research system in university and well-deserved encouragement to the industry.  In particular, regional hubs for genomics-assisted breeding and containment facilities for testing genetically modified corps need to be established to help plant breeders access the same in their efforts to improve the crop varieties.