Introduction Plant Genetic Resources serve as a foundation to achieve food security and sustainable agriculture. They provide the source of all biological traits needed by plant breeders to develop high yielding varieties resistant to various biotic and abiotic stresses. During the last four decades, the introduction of improved varieties has caused a catastrophic loss to local biodiversity. Realizing the importance of old landraces and their wild relatives, the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council has established a national genebank at NARC to collect, conserve, evaluate and utilize crop genetic resources.
Technology development, demonstration & recommendation:
The scientists of Plant Genetic Resources started collecting and conserving the crop genetic resources back in 1979 and so far have been able to assemble more than 23,000 accessions of various crops. The major collections include cereals, food legumes, oil seeds and under-utilized crops. The scientists have collected a wide array of genetic diversity and identified some elite lines of many crops. The lines moderately tolerant to salinity, and leaf folder (Cnaphalocrocis medinalis) in rice, early maturity and short stature in barley, good quality with desired allelic combination in wheat, powdery mildew resistance in pea, blight resistance in chickpea and charcoal rot resistance in black gram have been identified for utilization in the breeding programs. Longer grain and desired plant types in basmati rice have also been identified from indigenous genetic resources. Detailed evaluation against biotic and abiotic stresses is being carried out and will remain a priority area for plant genetic resources. The SDS-PAGE, Isozyme, and DNA analyses have been used to evaluate genetic diversity in different crop species. Four accessions of wheat have been identified for good quality on the basis of allelic combinations. Fingerprinting of rice cultivars is under investigation using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and microsatallite markers.
The protocols of SDS-PAGE, Isozyme, DNA extraction and its amplification, using PCR, were optimized. These techniques are being utilized for genetic diversity studies, variety identification and marker assisted selections. Key References Masood,M.S., M. Asghar and R. Anwar (2004). Genetic diversity in wheat landraces from Pakistan based on polymorphism for high molecular weight gluten in subunits (HMW-GS). Pakistan Journal of Botony., 36: 835-843. Ghafoor A, Z. Ahmad and R. Anwar. (2005). Genetic diversity in pisum sativum and a strategy for indigenous biodiversity conservation. Pak.J.Bot. 37:71-77. Masood,M.S., A. Ghafoor and Asif Javed. (2002). Laboratory manual for characterization and evaluation of Plant Genetic Resources. Pages 1-37.