The University of Delhi has developed a new Bt cotton event with high expression of the Bt gene and passed it on to the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur, a constituent institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The event showed a higher expression of the Bt toxin in Coker 310 cotton background as compared to the material in the field today and will be used by ICAR institutes and agricultural universities to introduce the Bt gene in varieties and hybrids developed by public-funded breeding programmes. This Bt gene event was developed in the laboratory of Prof Deepak Pental and Prof P K Burma by research scientists Dr Amarjeet Singh and Dr Kumar Paritosh in the Department of Genetics of University of Delhi with funding from the Department of Biotechnology. It took eight years to develop the event. The public breeding system over the yeas has developed productive lines and hybrids that are adapted to dryland-low input conditions. The Director General, ICAR, has exhorted CICR to use the event for diversification and development of drought-tolerant varieties with boll worm tolerance so as to help farmers in dry land areas in boosting cotton productivity and production. Furthermore, the use of new Bt cotton varieties under high density planting system developed by CICR shall help in lowering cost of cultivation and in turn profitability for the farmers of the country, particularly Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. An MoU was signed between ICAR-CICR and Delhi University on June 15, 2015 to facilitate transfer of the Bt cotton event so that the institute can transfer the gene in elite cultivars of cotton.
(For an article published in the Indian Express on 9 July, 2015 click here)
(Pictured here: Cotton plants with the above Bt gene in a Delhi University growth chamber. Photo by Vivian Fernandes on 15 June, 2015).