KOCHI: It is a giant leap for the agriculture sector in the State. The State’s first agricultural genomic lab has come up at Smart City in Kochi. The facility will improve production and sustainability of crops, livestock and fish varieties.
Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, the AgriGenome Labs provides genome sequencing, editing and bio-informatics services to those engaged in agriculture as well as academic and government institutions. The facility is expected to improve the genetic profile of various crops and livestock.
Inaugurating the facility, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University vice-chancellor K Ramasamy said the farming sector was poised to embrace genomics where plants and animals are examined and assessed at their DNA level. This would improve productivity and sustainability and strike a balance between conventional, organic and traditional farming, he said.
“We need to feed a growing population and also deal with climate change, environmental pressure, health concerns and food safety and ensure sustainable development,” he said. “Advances in genomics have opened up new practices, offering targeted breeding of crops, livestock and fish. It gives desired genetic traits like higher production, faster growth, heat or cold tolerance, disease resistance and reduced pesticide use.”
As opposed to the study of individual genes, today’s technology offers a complete picture of how genes work together, enabling scientists to study, interpret, mark and use them, said AgriGenome Labs chief operating officer George Thomas. Looking at the genome, scientists can determine the purity of a breed or hybrid and whether a plant or animal has the desired characteristics.
Thomas said the facility was equipped to offer a wide range of services, including trait mapping, diversity analysis, population genetics, parentage verification, DNA fingerprinting and genetic purity assessment, to name a few. There are also provisions for hybrid purity analysis, mapping of complex traits, marker-assisted selection and immunodiagnostics, he said.
A one-day conference on ‘Genomics in Agriculture’ was held as part of the launch. It focused on new generation platforms for breeding technologies, genotyping, marker-assisted breeding and advanced gene editing.