BHUBANESWAR: Farmers, who fear their indigenous chicken breeds will become extinct following outbreak of bird-flu, have a reason to cheer.
A biotechnologist claims to have made a breakthrough in preserving chicken germplasm with the help of cryo-banking technology to secure and revive pure-line breeds. Principal Investigator (PI) of a research project funded by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) Dr Adnan Naim said the indigenous chicken breeds can be bio-banked as a back-up strategy and kept in cryo vials maintained in liquid nitrogen for infinite period.
Though earlier cryo-banking technology was used for cattle and buffalo breeds in the country, no significant progress was achieved as far as poultry is concerned. Naim, a native of Uttar Pradesh, decided to work on it after he came across the technology which was used to conserve a wild bird species of UAE.
After completion of his PhD from Griffith University, Australia, he decided to work on the technology for preservation of poultry species and it gained pace during his research under the BIRAC project at KIIT-Technology Business Incubator (TBI).
"Poultry germplasm can be bio-banked through cryo-preservation of Primordial Germ Cells (PGCs). My research finding is a proof-of-concept to conserve many economically-valuable poultry breeds, including the prized native chickens, of the country. So far, bio-banking of Kadaknath and Aseel has been successful," he said.
The outbreak of bird-flu in Chhattisgarh and Odisha last month had led to culling of thousands of poultry causing huge loss to research institutes like OUAT where many seed stocks, scientifically important for the institution, were culled and disposed of securely.
"Currently there is no alternative to safeguard chicken germplasm other than maintaining stocks of sizeable number (at least 1000 live breeders, including both sexes) at multiple locations. It adds economic burden to breeders and public alike. But with bio-banking, we will have to stock only 10 to 20 breeders," Naim said.
The technology can also help revive species of endangered birds or national importance. He plans to work with Nandankanan Zoo for conservation of vulture species. "I have approached the zoo authorities. We can harvest gonads from the egg or dead vulture and then cell can be extracted and preserved for breeding. Our next programme is to go for trials on other poultry or birds species," he added.
Principal Scientist at ICAR-CARI Dr SK Mishra and Associate Professor of IIT Indore Debasis Nayak mentored the research project.