Water scarcity is posing a serious threat to global food security. Thus, there is an urgent need to focus the attention of policy makers, public and private sectors on the genetic improvement of food crops at a sufficient pace to meet the global needs of the people.
To improve crop production efficiency, we are using transgenic and functional genomic tools. Our research approach is 1) To engineer and test novel candidate genes from different organisms involved in the network of pathways for improved osmotic stress tolerance, and/or higher grain yield. 2) Molecular, biochemical and genetic analysis of several independent transgenic plants containing candidate genes, and provide the transgenic seeds to our collaborators for further testing. Both transgenic and gene pyramiding approaches are being used for different transgenic lines.
Preliminary greenhouse experiments on water defecit stress at early flowering stage in representative trehalose transgenic rice lines showed higher grain production than the non-transgenic control plants. Further field testing is needed under natural field conditions. We have intiated research work on maize with the same plasmid construct (pSB109-TPSP) to compare our results in rice.