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  • Author or Editor: S. Tripathi x
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Research on sugarcane biotechnology began in the 1960s with in vitro culture. Serious efforts to improve sugarcane crops by molecular approaches have commenced only in the past two decades. There is an increasing pressure worldwide to enhance the productivity of sugarcane in order to sustain profitable sugar industries, while there are several diseases attacking sugarcane and reducing the quality of the crop. Biotechnological approaches for sugarcane improvement have been applied in the areas of: (1) cell and tissue culture for rapid propagation genetic transformation and molecular breeding, (2) engineering novel genes into commercial cultivars, (3) molecular diagnostics of sugarcane pathogens, (4) developing genetic maps using molecular marker technology, (5) understanding the molecular basis of sucrose accumulation in the stem, (6) molecular testing of plants for clonal fidelity, (7) variety identification and (8) molecular characterization of various traits. Most of the current research in sugarcane biotechnology is recently focused primarily on transgenic and marker assisted breeding. Advancements have made it possible to sequence the complete genome of increasingly complex organisms and to clone and transfer individual genes to engineer new traits.

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Iron and zinc deficiency affects more than half of the world population due to low inherent micronutrient content of cereals and other staple foods. The micronutrient deficiency is further aggravated by poor availability of these minerals in calcareous soils and their uptake by crop plants. Series of available wheat-Aegilops addition lines were evaluated for identification of alien chromosomes carrying genes for high grain iron and zinc concentrations and release of mugineic acid(s) facilitating micronutrient uptake under their deficient conditions. Addition lines of chromosome 2Sv, 2Uv and 7Uv of Ae. peregrina, 2Sl and 7Sl of Ae. longissima and 2U of Ae. umbellulata were found to carry genes for high grain iron whereas the group 7 chromosomes had genes for higher grain zinc. Higher release of mugineic acid (MA) under iron deficient condition was observed in addition lines of chromosome 2Sv, 2Uv, 4Uv and 7Sv of Ae. peregrina, 2Sl and 6Sl of Ae. longissima and 2U and 5U of Ae. umbellulata. Higher grain and root iron concentration and MA(s) release under iron sufficient condition in the group 2 chromosome addition lines suggests that their high grain iron may be attributed to the higher uptake of the micronutrients through MA(s). These addition lines with two- to threefold high grain iron and zinc concentration could be used for precise introgression of genes into elite wheat cultivars for enhanced uptake of these micronutrients by wheat plants in problematic soils and their biofortification in grains.

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