Microbial, Plant Genomics

Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF), an obligate symbiont to the plant roots, acts as a natural biofertilizer providing the plants with water, nutrients and improving crop health and stress tolerance. Also, the plant-AMF symbioses form one of the oldest symbiotic systems from as old as 400 mya driving researchers to accept it as “Mother of all Symbiosis”. Owing to its substantial benefits as a biofertilizer, AMF is considered an alternative to the currently used chemical fertilizers. Since TERI is working on different aspects of sustainable agriculture, it explores the potential of AMF in terms of application and understanding its biology to further enhance the AMF capabilities as a biofertilizer using different sustainable intensification approaches. Apart from being a biofertilizer and an obligate symbiont to most of the plant roots, AMF serves as a host to various endobacteria. The centre works to explore and understand the omics of the AMF following different genomics, transcriptomics and metagenomic approaches by sequencing the DNA/ RNA on the latest Next-gen sequencing platforms.

Further, various molecular techniques such as qPCR are applied to confirm the bioinformatics data. The centre has done remarkable research to extract the beneficial genes and gene products from the AMF, such as AMF biomarkers. The present omics research focuses on getting the genomics and transcriptomics data of the previously unreported AMF species and understanding the endobacteria thriving inside it by analyzing the gene transfers between them. These molecular and bioinformatics studies will further help in the AMF strain improvement and get beneficial gene products, which may help overcome the current drawbacks in the broad application of AMF as a biofertilizer.

Plant Functional Genomics at TDNBC focuses on development of plant-based natural products, and other industrially relevant plant-biotechnologies, together with plant molecular studies on incorporating novel traits, are among the most characteristic activities of our team. We focus on next-generation metabolic engineering approaches to produce plant specialized metabolites. These include recombinant plant cell suspension and algal culture technology, chloroplast synthetic biology and genome editing for incorporating improved agronomic traits. The discoveries in basic plant research play a crucial role in developing technologies to improve agriculture by introducing important traits to a crop of interest. Our team employs integrated approaches to identify genes and understand their function for imparting significant agronomic impact in crops useful for growers, industry and consumers.