New Delhi: A new molecule that can make wheat crop resistant to climatic stress and boost yield by 50 per cent has been discovered by an Indian researcher. The discovery assumes importance as average wheat yield is lower at around 3 tonnes per hectare in India, the world’s second largest grower after China. India’s average yield is 39 per cent lower than China.
The molecule is water soluble and can be sprayed on the wheat plant or injected to the root of the plant. This can also be used on other crops like rice, maize and potato. The new molecule has been discovered by researcher Ram Sagar Misra from Shiv Nadar University with the help of two other researchers Benjamin Davis and Matthew Paul from the Oxford University and the UK-based Rothamsted Research, respectively, after a decade of research work.
“The molecule have been patented in the US, the UK and the EU by the University of Oxford. We are now in talks with three agro-chemical companies including one Israeli firm for commercialisation,” Misra told PTI in an interview.
The molecule is non-toxic to the plant and does not get into the wheat grain. This new approach developed through the biotechnology-enabled process is known as “chemical intervention in plant signalling approach”, he said.
Misra also said that this new method does not rely on genetic modifications (GM) to create super-yields or combat climate change and therefore offers a viable alternative to GM technology. The new approach uses Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), a central sugar signal in plants, which regulates sucrose use and allocation, underpinning crop growth and development to signal the plant to produce more starch in wheat, he added.
Wheat output in India is projected to be 96.64 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) as against 92.29 million tonnes in 2015-16. India had record wheat production of 95.85 million tonnes in 2013-14 crop year. PTI
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