Workshop on gene editing held at ICRISAT

Twenty crop scientists from Asia and Africa were trained for two weeks at ICRISAT on gene-editing tools, including the increasingly popular CRISPR/Cas technology.

From trait selection to validation of edited plants, specific sessions were conducted on designing strategies for gene editing, basic gene-editing workflows, cloning of the guideRNA (gRNA) and their delivery in plant cells. The trainees also had an exposure visit to National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad, to acquaint themselves with applications of gene editing in livestock improvement. During the two-week training program, a number of national and international experts served as resource persons discussing various tools, methodologies and applications of emerging gene-editing technologies in agriculture.

This international training program was organized by ICRISAT during October 14-25 in collaboration with APCoAB program of Asia Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), BIRAC-BioNEST Ag-biotech incubator of ICRISAT and the CRP Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals. The NARS participants hailed from India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Senegal, Kenya and Rwanda.

Keynote speaker Prof Arjula R Reddy and lead speaker Prof RP Sharma from Hyderabad Central University gave the opening presentations on evolution of the technology and the status of regulatory policies across the globe.

Dr Peter Carberry, Director General, ICRISAT, underscored the importance of gene editing in crop improvement during the inaugural session. Dr Rishi Kumar Tyagi, Coordinator of APCoAB, shared the expectations from the training program. Dr Pooja Bhatnagar-Mathur, the course coordinator, briefed the participants on the tools and technologies for genome editing in agriculture.

Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT

Several ICRISAT scientists including Dr Rajeev Varshney, Director, Genetic Gains Research Program; Dr Rajeev Gupta, FP-5 leader of CRP Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals; and Dr Jan Debaene, Global Head, Breeding, ICRISAT, addressed the workshop participants.

Dr Sudhakar Reddy, Scientist, ICRISAT, with the help of staff and students of Cell, Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering, provided participants with the requisite support in all aspects of gene editing.

By the end of the training course, the participants had understood workflows with bioinformatics, cloning and genetic transformation, and screening skill sets which would help them prepare to run successful gene-editing applications in their respective programs.

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