Page 48 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
P. 48

         Making Wheat Weightier, Sturdier
The work of Dr Vandana Jaiswal, co-winner of the CSIR-Young Scientist Award in Biological Sciences, is geared towards finding a solution for the world’s hunger problem
n Science India Bureau
Dr Vandana Jaiswal, a scien- tist with the Division of Bio- technology, CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur, is the co-recipient of the CSIR-Young Scientist Award (2020) in Biological Sciences, awarded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Re- search (CSIR), Government of India, for her significant contribution towards identification of genomic regions har- bouring Genes/QTLs for agronomic traits in wheat and develop-
ment of molecular markers for
wheat improvement program.
Her research work fo-
cuses on the identification
of genomic regions harbour-
ing genes/QTLs (Quantita-
tive Trait Locus, a section
of DNA) associated with im-
portant characters in plant
species and their genetic im- provement through molecular techniques. Wheat is a staple food crop and feeds billions across the world. In- creasing population creates a challenge to develop varieties with improved char- acters and yield. Her team identified sig- nificant number of genes/QTLs for each of the important traits in wheat which will help in wheat improvement.
In wheat, Dr Jaiswal’s team identi- fied causal site in major grain weight gene TaGW2-6A. Besides, they also ex- plored the genomic regions in cotton, foxtail millet and capsicum. In cotton, they dissected the genetic architecture of fibre yield and qualities. They also realised that a majority of world popu-
lation suffers from malnu-
trition, and national food
security is an area to be
focused upon. Thus, the
team also focused on identi-
fication of genomic regions
associated with micronu-
trients and yield traits in nutritionally rich crops like
foxtail millet. In capsicum, for the first time the team identified genes associated with fruit development and ripening. The team also developed non-coding RNA (ncRNA)-based molecular mark-
ers in capsicum.
Dr Jaiswal’s team devel-
oped wheat lines with signifi- cantly higher grain protein content than their parental lines through molecular breeding. They introgressed a major grain protein gene (Gpc-B1) in 10 Indian wheat cultivars and developed high grain protein lines. In wheat, grain protein ranges from 12-
Dr Jaiswal’s work focuses on molecular markers for wheat improvement programme
is very challenging but Dr Jaiswal’s team has initiated its genetic improvement.
Dr Jaiswal earned MPhil and PhD degrees from Ch. Charan Singh Uni- versity, Meerut, in Genetics and Plant Breeding (2009-2014). She next got the CSIR-Nehru Science Post-doctoral fel- lowship and joined CSIR-NBRI (Na- tional Botanical Research Institute), Lucknow. In 2017, she got DST-IN- SPIRE faculty award and worked at the School of Life Sciences, JNU. In 2019, she was appointed as Scientist in Bio- technology Division at CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur. Besides, she also re- ceived the Early Career Research Award (2018) from Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Government of India; Women Scientist A (2014, 2016) grant from the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India; DS Kothari Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2014) from the UGC and Senior Re- search Fellowship (2013) from the CSIR.
Her research work was also selected for presentation in the 12th Internation- al Symposium on Pre-Harvest Sprouting in Cereals (ISPHSC) held in 2011, at Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
Dr Vandana Jaiswal
14% but newly developed lines showed grain protein content up to 18%. The major challenge faced in this experiment was yield loss as grain protein content is inversely proportional to grain yield. However, combined phenotyping and molecular selections enabled Dr Jaiswal to develop lines with higher grain pro- tein content without any yield loss.
Now, at CSIR-IHBT, Palampur, Dr Jaiswal’s team is focusing on un- veiling the genetics of economically important traits, and improvement of Himalayan crops through molecular approaches. Saffron is one example. Due to sterile nature, its genetic improvement

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