M S Swamininathan Research Foundation
  • Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Recent publications
Soils, particularly agricultural soils, are home to a plethora of microbial communities capable of sequestering soil carbon. In this framework, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play a pivotal role. This universal group of fungi form an obligate symbiotic relationship with the roots of higher plants leading to improved nutrient uptake and abiotic and biotic stress resistance. In addition, these fungi secrete a group of glycoproteins called glomalin or glomalin-related soil protein (GRSP) that sustain soil health, cement soil aggregates, and sequester soil C in a stable form. AMF symbiosis and GRSP production are however influenced by numerous aspects, including crop and soil management practices. Besides plant and soil type, soil management practices also influence AMF diversity and abundance. The soil carbon sequestration via AMF and GRSP is achievable if AMF supporting agricultural practices are employed. This chapter summarizes the cumulative role of AMF and GRSP in forming and stabilizing soil aggregates for long-term C storage, the influence of AMF-mediated agricultural practices to sequester soil carbon and improve soil quality traits.
Degradation of socio-ecological production landscapes (SEPLs) triggered mainly by the impoverishment of biodiversity and the increasing incidence of climate catastrophes significantly challenges human health and food and nutritional security. Critical concern needs to be placed on ensuring both human and ecosystem health and contributing to nutrition-sensitive local food production and protection of SEPLs. As case points, we describe herein a few interventions and their impacts in promoting the conservation, cultivation, consumption, and commercial aspects regarding the medicinal and food plant diversity of a biocultural diversity hotspot in the Malabar region of India. The local communities of this region have historically possessed a wide array of local health traditions (LHTs) and local food baskets (LFBs) based on a landscape approach. Yet, this richness is being eroded or oversimplified, and as a result, many plants important for their local food and health value are becoming rare. The need for revitalisation of the LHTs and LFBs through homestead and landscape-level interventions is discussed in view of human immunity to infectious diseases. Recommendations are also suggested to address some of the policy gaps in promoting the sustainable management of SEPLs.
Background An ongoing action research nutrition literacy programme based on Freire’s approach of raising critical consciousness through the use of dialogue as a pedagogic tool is being implemented as part of a nutrition sensitive agricultural intervention in tribal Odisha. One hundred and eight adults, referred to as Community Hunger Fighters (CHFs) underwent two modules of a residential training programme of two and a half days each, spread over two months. Through discussion they explored the reasons behind the lack of diversity in their daily diets and identified the social, economic and cultural barriers to food intake in the context of their own poverty. They undertook collective exercises in nutrition sensitive agricultural planning. The transformative behaviour of the CHFs was captured through observation, interviews and focus group discussion with a set of qualitative indicators. Results The methodology of dialogue as a pedagogic tool generated a discussion about food security among the community. CHFs identified key messages and shared them with fellow villagers in imaginative ways. The process of critical reflection and analysis helped understand gender disparities, the bottlenecks in food production, brought in life style changes to improve food intake and created a demand for technical training for improving agricultural productivity. Thirty eight had started a nutri-garden and several took on leadership roles on other issues of importance besides food security. Conclusion Dialogue as a pedagogic tool for nutrition literacy in an agricultural intervention programme has the potential to facilitate a process of critical reflection on the socio cultural and economic barriers to food production and consumption thereby leading to transformative action.
Agriculture remains vital in ensuring the food security of developing economies like India, yet increasing rural-urban migration, an aging farm population, and waning interest of rural youth in agriculture are emerging concerns. This paper focuses on the aspirations of farm parents and their children in agriculture, the challenges they confront, and potential solutions. We draw on qualitative data from two rural sites in Southern India, different from each other in their agro-ecological and social contexts, to point to the material, social, relational, and structural factors shaping aspirations. First, agrarian distress, resulting from climate variability and market uncertainty, affects farm households' socioeconomic status, resulting in farmers' aspiration failure in agriculture. Farm parents then focus on educating their children, aspiring for secure non-farm jobs for their sons, and finding suitable marriage partners, also in non-farm employment, for their daughters. While this steer from parents discourages youth from aspiring to careers in agriculture, in reality, there is a wide gap in the achievement of aspirations, and a majority of youth, especially young women, do end up working on their family farms. For the future development of agriculture and sustainable food systems, it is essential to protect young farmers from aspiration failures and innovate through appropriate policies.
Asian cultivated rice shows allelic variation in sodium transporter, OsHKT1;5, correlating with shoot sodium exclusion (salinity tolerance). These changes map to intra/extracellularly-oriented loops that occur between four transmembrane-P loop-transmembrane (MPM) motifs in OsHKT1;5. HKT1;5 sequences from more recently evolved Oryza species (O. sativa/O. officinalis complex species) contain two expansions that involve two intracellularly oriented loops/helical regions between MPM domains, potentially governing transport characteristics, while more ancestral HKT1;5 sequences have shorter intracellular loops. We compared homology models for homoeologous OcHKT1;5-K and OcHKT1;5-L from halophytic O. coarctata to identify complementary amino acid residues in OcHKT1;5-L that potentially enhance affinity for Na⁺. Using haplotyping, we showed that Asian cultivated rice accessions only have a fraction of HKT1;5 diversity available in progenitor wild rice species (O. nivara and O. rufipogon). Progenitor HKT1;5 haplotypes can thus be used as novel potential donors for enhancing cultivated rice salinity tolerance. Within Asian rice accessions, 10 non-synonymous HKT1;5 haplotypic groups occur. More HKT1;5 haplotypic diversities occur in cultivated indica gene pool compared to japonica. Predominant Haplotypes 2 and 10 occur in mutually exclusive japonica and indica groups, corresponding to haplotypes in O. sativa salt-sensitive and salt-tolerant landraces, respectively. This distinct haplotype partitioning may have originated in separate ancestral gene pools of indica and japonica, or from different haplotypes selected during domestication. Predominance of specific HKT1;5 haplotypes within the 3 000 rice dataset may relate to eco-physiological fitness in specific geo-climatic and/or edaphic contexts.
Intercropping is a well-established practice to enhance the yield in low-input agriculture, and beneficial microbes such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) combined with plant growth promoting rhizobacteria are being used as an effective and sustainable measure to improve yields. In this study, we tested if biofertilizers can not only enhance the yield of crops in monoculture as has previously been demonstrated but can also enhance the yield of intercropping systems. We hypothesized that because AMF can form common mycorrhizal networks (CMN) that can transfer nutrients and water between different plant species, biofertilization can balance belowground competition between crop species and promote thus overall yields in intercropping systems. In our study, we used a pigeon pea (PP)—finger millet (FM) intercropping system that we grew for two consecutive growing seasons (2016/17 and 2017/18) at two contrasting sites in Bengaluru and Kolli Hills, India. We also tested if the spatial arrangement (i.e., different arrangement of component plants with similar plant density in intercropping system) of intercropped plants, using either a row-wise or a mosaic design, influences the effect of biofertilizers on yield and water relations of the PP-FM intercropping system. Our results demonstrate that intercropping can improve the straw and grain yield of PP and FM compared to the respective monocultures and that intercropping effects vary depending on the site characteristic such as climate and soil type. The spatial arrangement of component plants affected the total, straw, and grain biomass in intercropping treatments, but this effect also varied across sites. Most importantly, the results from the 2017/18 growing season clearly demonstrated a positive effect of biofertilizer on biomass yield, and this effect was irrespective of site, spatial arrangement, mixed or monoculture. Our study therefore shows that yield increase in intercropping systems can further be improved through the application of biofertilizers.
Farming is the main livelihood of a majority of people in India. The country is also home to a large population of undernourished people. This indicates potential for mainstreaming the nutrition dimension in the farming system to impact on nutrition outcomes. A Farming System for Nutrition (FSN) study was conducted in two agro-ecologically different locations from 2013–2018, to explore the feasibility of nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions. The baseline survey in 2013–2014 revealed that the population in the study area was largely undernourished and that household diets were cereal-dominated. The FSN model was designed in consultation with community members, to increase availability of nutrient-dense cereals and pulses, by enhancing production and crop diversification at the farm level, promoting cultivation of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables in nutrition gardens and supporting interventions to promote access to animal foods. Nutrition awareness initiatives were undertaken to build capacity at the local level and translate production diversity to consumption diversity. An endline survey was conducted in 2017 (July-October), following three years of intervention. Crop, vegetable and animal food production and food consumption was compared with the baseline data. There was evidence of higher production and consumption of nutrient rich foods, improved household dietary diversity; and understanding and acceptance of nutrition-sensitive agriculture. The number of items consumed under each food group, frequency of consumption of food and average per capita intake of nutrient-rich foods were found to have improved. The results provide evidence regarding feasibility of location-specific FSN models to promote sustainable and healthy diets, using locally available plant and animal food resources, to address nutrition deficiencies in farm families.
Biodegradation of phenol using bacteria is recognized as an efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective approach for reducing phenol pollutants compared to the current conventional physicochemical processes adopted. A potential phenol degrading bacterial strain Glutamicibacter nicotianae MSSRFPD35 was isolated and identified from Canna indica rhizosphere grown in distillery effluent contaminated sites. It showed high phenol degrading efficiency up to 1117 mg L −1 within 60 h by the secretion of catechol 1,2-dioxygenase via ortho intradial pathway. The strain MSSRFPD35 possess both the catechol 1,2 dioxygenase and catechol 2,3 dioxygenase coding genes that drive the ortho and meta pathways, but the enzymatic assay revealed that the strain cleaves catechol via ortho pathway. Haldane's kinetic method was well fit to exponential growth data and the following kinetic parameter was obtained: µ * = 0.574 h −1 , K i = 268.1, K s = 20.29 mg L −1. The true µ max and S m were calculated as 0.37 h −1 and 73.76 mg L −1 , respectively. The Haldane's constant values were similar to earlier studies and healthy fitness depicted in correlation coefficient value R 2 of 0.98. Phenol degrading kinetic's was predicted using Haldane's model as q max 0.983, K i 517.5 and K s 9.152. Further, MSSRFPD35 was capable of utilizing different monocyclic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and to degrade phenol in the presence of different heavy metals. This study for the first time reports high phenol degrading efficiency of G. nicotianae MSSRFPD35 in the presence of toxic heavy metals. Thus, the strain G. nicotianae MSSRFPD35 can be exploited for the bioremediation of phenol and its derivatives polluted environments, co-contaminated with heavy metals.
Mangrove ecosystems play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. However, the carbon fluxes in the mangrove ecosystems found in the Indian subcontinent are not well understood. Here, for the first time, we estimate the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) in a mangrove ecosystem at Pichavaram, southeast India, using the eddy covariance method for the period October 2017–September 2018. The half-hourly daytime NEE varied from −11.05 μmol m−2 s−1 in the winter months (January–March 2018) to −6.06 μmol m−2 s−1 during the summer (April 2018). The estimated annual evapotranspiration during the study period was 610 mm, whereas the precipitation was 653 mm (much dryer than the long-term average). The half-hourly NEE data were gap filled and partitioned to estimate the gross primary productivity (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (Reco). The estimated annual GPP was 1466 gC m−2 and Reco was 1283 gC m−2. The mangrove forest appeared to be a modest sink of atmospheric CO2, with an annual average net ecosystem productivity of 183 gC m−2. However, in the summer months, it acted as a source. We observed that the mangrove CO2 fluxes strongly responded to environmental factors such as temperature, rainfall, and salinity. However, it is noteworthy that the carbon sink capability may decline in the future due to rising temperatures, decreasing rainfall patterns, variation in salinity, and changes in tidal inundation patterns.
Purpose. To determine the risk factors associated with sustained intraocular pressure (IOP) rise in patients enrolled in the treat and extend (T&E) protocol receiving aflibercept/ranibizumab therapy for 3 years. Design. Retrospective, observational chart review. Setting. Multicentric. Patients. 789 patients (1021 eyes; 602 males) enrolled in T&E using aflibercept/ranibizumab for diabetic macular edema (DME), wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or macular edema in retinal vein occlusion (RVO). Intervention. The history, examination (clinical and special investigations), and treatment records were thoroughly scrutinized. Sustained IOP rise was defined as a rise in IOP above baseline by ≥6 mmHg and/or >24 mmHg on 2 or more consecutive visits. The Wilk–Shapiro test was used for confirming normality of data. The Mantel–Haenszel test and generalized estimating equations were used to analyse multicentric data as well as to analyse data from both eyes of the same patients in the event that both eyes were under therapy. The relative risk, chi-square test (with and without Yates’ correction), and univariate and multivariate analysis were used wherever appropriate. Statistical significance was set at . The primary outcome measure was the determination of risk factors for sustained IOP rise with ranibizumab/aflibercept therapy. Secondary outcome measures included determining the incidence of IOP rise (short term and sustained), visual field, and retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) changes. Results. The mean follow-up was 42.4 months. Male gender, South Asian ethnicity, older age, presence of AMD and vein occlusion, use of ranibizumab, higher number of injections, narrow angles, switch to bevacizumab/ranibizumab, and preexisting glaucoma were associated with sustained IOP rise. No significant visual field and RNFL changes were seen. The overall incidence was 8.91%. No patient required filtering surgery. No patient with IOP rise returned to baseline. Conclusion. IOP rise is an important consideration as the chronicity of the condition can eventually lead to glaucomatous changes in eyes with already compromised vision. Follow-ups and use of appropriate therapy can be determined correspondingly. 1. Introduction Sustained intraocular pressure rise following intravitreal anti-VEGF injections is a known phenomenon, with several publications addressing this issue in part or whole [1–5]. There is a certain measure of discrepancy in reporting insofar as the potential risk factors as well as definitions of intraocular pressure (IOP) rise are concerned [6–8]. With numerous publications on the subject, it is only natural that contrasting outcomes are noted in studies conducted across the globe [1–8], the most disputed amongst risk factors for IOP rise being the number of injections administered and the treatment interval [2] between consecutive injections. When one factor in the indication, the anti-VEGF agent used, the phakic status, the anterior chamber angle status, family history of glaucoma, and other characteristics [1, 2], it is evident that the condition (IOP rise) and analysis thereof is a complex phenomenon. Despite a plethora of literature on the subject, a recently published review [1] highlights the lack of readily identifiable risk factors for IOP rise following intravitreal injections. Additionally, a literature search on PubMed, Scopus, and the Cochrane Database on 11th May 2019 using the key words “anti-VEGF agents, diabetic macular edema, retinal vein occlusion, age-related macular degeneration, choroidal neovascular membrane, intraocular pressure rise, ocular hypertension, ethnicity, anti-VEGF drug volume, short-term intraocular pressure rise, treat and extend regimen, aflibercept, ranibizumab, bevacizumab, dexamethasone implant, therapy switch, glaucoma progression, RNFL thickness, visual fields and optic disc changes” revealed a paucity of data on a comprehensive overview and hazard analysis of risk factors and IOP rise, especially between ranibizumab and aflibercept. We undertook this study with the aim of concurrently analysing all probable risk factors for sustained IOP rise following anti-VEGF injections under one complete regression model on patients enrolled under the treat and extend protocol and under follow-up for at least 3 years. 2. Methods A retrospective, database search was conducted for patients who received the treat and extend protocol for wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD), diabetic macular edema (DME), and macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion (RVO), and who were followed up for at least 3 years. Patients recruited had been treated at the Alphavision Augenzentrum, Bremerhaven, Germany, between January 2013 and June 2016; and the Indian centres of Raghudeep Eye Hospital, Ahmedabad; and MS Sudhalkar Medical Research Foundation, Baroda, The study adhered to the tenets of Helsinki. Informed consent about possible use of data for research had been obtained from all patients at the time of the first consultation. The chart review adhered to guidelines set out for the retrospective review process. 2.1. Patient Data 2.1.1. Inclusion Criteria For inclusion, patients were required to have been enrolled in the treat and extend protocol of anti-VEGF injections for one of the aforementioned conditions (diabetic macular edema, macular edema associated with vein occlusion, or age-related macular degeneration) and to have had a follow-up for 3 years at least. 2.1.2. Data Chart Analysis Data collected included a thorough history, demographics, the ethnicity of the patient, the indication for injection, the number of injections, the treatment interval, the type of anti-VEGF agent used, the volume of drug injected, therapy switch (if any), the status of the crystalline lens, the axial length, the anterior chamber angle status (per the Shaffer system; grade 2 or less was considered narrow), the relation between short-term IOP rise (measured 2 minutes after injection) and sustained IOP rise, and whether the patient was a preexisting patient of glaucoma or if the patient had a family history of glaucoma. We also noted the concentration of ranibizumab injected (0.5 mg or 0.3 mg). In India, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved both 0.3 mg and 0.5 mg concentrations for all three aforementioned indications, including 2 mg/0.05 ml for treatment-resistant cases [9]. 2.1.3. Injection Procedure Patients received a preemptive combination of brimonidine and timolol twice daily [10], starting 24 hours prior to the day of injection followed by one drop in the morning at least 2 hours prior to the injection. Additionally, we performed ocular decompression using the technique described by Gregori and associates [11] if there was no light perception after injection on table as assessed by asking the patient to look directly into the microscope light. The injections had been administered under antiseptic conditions and topical anesthesia using a standardized technique in the inferotemporal quadrant. Preoperative preparation was conducted with povidone-iodine. Light perception and finger counting were confirmed on table after injection. No topical/systemic antibiotics were prescribed postoperatively. The IOP was measured with the Goldmann Applanation Tonometer 2 minutes after the injection in each patient to look for short-term IOP rise. The patients were followed up after injection on days 1, 10, and 30 and later as per the treat and extend regime. The treat and extend regime was strictly followed in all patients. 2.1.4. Therapy Switch and Treatment Details Patients were advised a therapy switch based on standardized protocols. Bevacizumab could be administered to patients with neovascular AMD if therapy with ranibizumab and aflibercept was not effective; patients were required to have a minimum of 6 injections each before any switch was attempted. Patients with DME or macular edema secondary to RVO could receive the dexamethasone implant as therapy if treatment with ranibizumab and aflibercept was not effective. For DME and RVO patients, bevacizumab was permitted only if the patient showed no response to the implant or if the implant was contraindicated in a particular patient. Overall, at least 6 monthly injections of either ranibizumab or aflibercept were necessary followed by at least 6 monthly injections of the other drug before the dexamethasone implant or bevacizumab could be administered, regardless of the indication as per the protocol for treat and extend regime set by the Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft, Deutsche Retinologische Gesellschaft, and Berufsverband für Augenärzte [12]. These associations also set out guidelines for patient examination (clinical examination) and follow-ups and are compulsory for receiving reimbursement [12]. Our centres in India followed the treat and extend regimen as well. It is also of note that some patients in our centres in India received 0.3 mg ranibizumab as approved of by the Drugs Controller General of India. The treat and extend protocol was, however, strictly followed as already stated. We also noted the effect of therapy switch to either bevacizumab, dexamethasone implant, or from aflibercept to ranibizumab or vice versa on IOP of patients who had been treated with either ranibizumab or aflibercept. This was done to note the influence, if any, of switching to a particular drug from a particular drug. 2.1.5. Sustained IOP Rise We defined sustained IOP rise as a rise in IOP above baseline by ≥6 mmHg and/or an IOP elevation to >24 mmHg on 2 or more consecutive visits beyond month 1 (i.e., IOP spike sustained beyond day 30) as suggested and published by Al-Abdullah and coauthors. The rise was to have been sustained for at least 6 months after first documentation of IOP rise. 2.1.6. Monitoring for Glaucoma Eyes with preexisting glaucoma received quarterly visual field assessments in accordance with the guidelines set out [12]. Nonglaucomatous eyes received annual visual field evaluations unless they developed ocular hypertension, in which case they received semiannual visual field examinations in accordance with guidelines [12]. Patients with unreliable visual fields were excluded from the analysis. 2.1.7. Statistical Analysis Descriptive statistics was used to analyze categorical variables in size (absolute frequencies) and percentage (relative frequencies). The Wilk–Shapiro test was used to confirm the normality of the data distribution. The chi-square test was used, with and without Yates’ correction, wherever appropriate. The relative risk ratio was deduced for eyes receiving injections versus fellow eyes which acted as controls. The paired t-test was used to compare variables before and after the studied events. The Cochran–Mantel– Haenszel model for binary outcomes and generalized estimating equations were used to assimilate data from different centres as well as to analyze data from both eyes in patients who had bilateral treatment and to produce an overall result. Univariate analysis was performed to determine the association between various independent variables (such as age, indication, lens status, and number of injections) and IOP rise (dependent variable). Those variables which returned a significant association on univariate analysis were included in a multiple logistic regression model to determine the influence of one variable on IOP spikes after having factored in other characteristics which are known to influence the IOP. Correlation coefficients were derived to determine the strength of association between a said variable and the development of IOP rise. The results of these tests were presented as adjusted and unadjusted odds ratio, confidence intervals, and their values. An odds ratio value that is greater than one indicates a higher risk of development of OHT. Fisher’s exact test (with Benjamini–Hochberg adjustments of value for pairwise comparisons, wherever applicable) was used to compare categorical variables between groups of various indications. A value of 0.05 was considered statistically significant. 2.1.8. Outcome Measures The primary outcome measure was the determination of risk factors associated with sustained IOP rise in patients enrolled in the treat and extend protocol. The secondary outcome measures included determining the incidence of sustained IOP rise, changes in visual field defects (especially mean deviation) as noted at final follow-up from baseline, and the changes in RNFL thickness from baseline to final follow-up. 3. Results 3.1. Demographics and Characteristics A total of 839 patients (1021 eyes; 431 males) were analyzed. The mean follow-up was 42.4 months (SD: 2.5 months; range 36–52 months). Table 1 provides a detailed breakup of patients classified per anti-VEGF agent with reference to age, sex, indication, ethnicity, axial length, number of injections, the treatment interval, details of therapy switch, and other previously enumerated factors. Characteristics Univariate analysis Multivariate analysis Odds ratio 95% CI value Adjusted OR CI value Age (years) >70 Ref <70 3.34 1.32–5.72 0.012 3.72 1.72–4.63 0.015 Gender Female Ref Male 2.83 1.02–4.76 0.024 2.94 1.1–4.89 0.018 Lens status Pseudophakic Ref Phakic 1.04 0.84–1.46 0.21 Etiology DME Ref AMD 3.31 1.34–4.28 0.01 2.40 1.43–4.57 0.009 RVO 1.47 1.23–2.12 0.28 Anti-VEGF agent Aflibercept Ref Ranibizumab 6.62 2.95–8.89 0.001 5.85 2.07–7.24 0.001 Ac angle TM seen Ref TM not seen 4.27 3.17–5.94 0.002 3.15 1.87–5.34 0.017 Ethnicity German Ref South Asian 2.89 1.76–5.13 0.023 3.14 1.87–4.32 0.013 Turkish 1.57 1.33–2.19 0.22 Arab 1.42 1.32–1.89 0.19 Short-term IOP rise No Ref Yes 2.31 2.12–4.33 0.24 Baseline IOP <14 mm Hg Ref 14 mm or higher 2.17 1.27–5.32 0.12 Ranibizumab volume (ml) 0.03 0.05 4.31 2.18–6.75 0.001 3.78 1.32–5.75 0.001 Treatment interval (weeks) 4 Ref >4 2.31 2.09–4.12 0.11 Number of injections 3 or less Ref 3–6 3.35 1.67–3.87 0.07 >6 3.24 2.09–5.08 0.012 4.11 1.83–5.39 0.001 Therapy switch To aflibercept Ref To ranibizumab 4.13 2.29–6.03 0.003 3.78 2.10–4.78 0.002 To DEXI 3.11 2.87–5.4 0.09 To avastin 5.12 2.56–7.25 0.011 4.55 2.17–6.78 0.002 Glaucoma No glaucoma Ref Preexisting 3.11 2.78–5.97 0.013 4.13 3.12–5.89 0.001 F/H glaucoma No Ref Yes 1.57 1.33–4.21 0.14 Axial length (mm) 23.0–25.0 Ref <23.0 2.34 1.42–5.22 0.13 >25.0 1.85 1.2–3.98 0.10 CI: confidence interval, DME: diabetic macular edema, OR: odds ratio, value, AMD: age-related macular degeneration, RVO: retinal vein occlusion, TM: trabecular meshwork, DEXI: dexamethasone implant. “Ref” is short for “Reference for statistical comparison of independent variables with more than one possible outcome during multivariate analysis.
Salinization of soil is a prime abiotic stress that limits agriculture productivity worldwide. To Study the mechanisms that halophytes take up to survive under high salt condition is important in engineering salinity stress tolerance in sensitive species. Suaeda nudiflora is a halophyte plant that grows in the saline environment and extreme high tidal belt. The species have high capability to produce high protein biomass in salty soils due to C4 photosynthesis. The physiological and biochemical changes in S. nudiflora under salinity stress were studied by measuring chlorophyll content, electrolytic leakage, level of lipid peroxidation and total soluble sugars. Increased lipid peroxidation and electrolytic leakage was observed in salt stressed S. nudiflora compared to control plants. A suppression subtractive hybridization strategy was employed to identify differentially expressed genes under salt treatment in S. nudiflora. A total of 333 positive clones were identified and screened. Of these, 250 expressed sequence tags were identified. cDNA subtraction library resulted in 33 contigs and 138 singletons. The functional annotation and metabolic pathways identification were performed using the Blast2GO program. In addition, we analyzed the expression patterns of 18 genes associated with salt stress-responsive pathways by semi-quantitative PCR under salt and elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) conditions. Several of the analyzed genes showed an increase in expression levels under different time points of salt treatment and at different concentrations of salt. When the same genes were studied for its expression under elevated CO2 concentrations, most of the known salt responsive genes showed higher expression under the combined treatment of elevated CO2 concentrations (500 ppm) and NaCl treatment (200 mM) compare to ambient condition. This implies that salt responsive genes are enhanced at elevated CO2 concentrations.
The mangroves of the Godavari are well known as the first largest mangrove wetland in the state of Andhra Pradesh and the second largest in the Eastern Coast of India. Mangroves of Godavari provide multiple benefits to local communities, but they were threatening this wetland since 1980. The objective of this work is to map and monitor the mangroves and analyze the changes over the period of 74 years and incorporate geospatial data of the study area into a WebGIS platform. This WebGIS is an exceptional and cost-effective solution that would lead a valuable decision-making process for the public, significant versatile asset which would bring the mangroves to improve operations, increase collaboration and promote tourism, research and development through the internet. Topographic maps and satellite images have been used to map mangroves wetland and developed WebGIS by using open source and incorporated geospatial information of mangroves into it. As it acts as a standards-based platform for digital analysis, data management and mapping and monitoring mangroves, resulting stakeholders to access everywhere via web browser at any time. This is an innovative technique and is attempted here for the first time to manage mangroves; it can store a massive volume of geospatial data on the server, which reduces time, manpower and expense and control duplication of data. Apart from this, it has also allowed users for visualizing, editing, manipulating, interacting and disseminating geospatial data. The result revealed that 12 geospatial data from 1938 to 2012 were made available that showed changes in mangroves extent and distribution, and also a gradual increase in mangrove covers has been noticed from 2004 onwards. It may be concluded that a WebGIS-based study on mangrove wetland is useful to manage mangroves by mangrove management authorities and to regulate the mangrove development activities and formulating new policies for the better planning and management in order to guide for the sustainable mangrove of forests.
The challenge to food production posed by climate aberrations has been seeing increased attention to reviving millet-based farming systems. Millets are climate-resilient and nutritionally equivalent or superior to most other cereals, making them a favourable crop to address the prevalence of malnutrition. Finger millet (Eleusine coracana) is among the major crops cultivated in the undulating terrains of Koraput district of Odisha, India. It is consumed as a staple food and drink by the local tribal communities. However, over the years there has been rapid decline both in area and in production of the crop leading to reduced grain availability for household consumption. With a view to increase the productivity, the study assessed the effects of possible combinations of crop varieties and agronomic practices that can be customized for finger millet production system in Koraput over 2 years (2015–2017). The study focused on crop productivity, profitability and labour requirement along with nutrition awareness initiatives. On-farm trial with improved variety ‘GPU-67’ with line transplanting and recommended fertilizer management in 2015–2016 showed 31 and 50% higher grain yield and profit than that of farmers’ practice (1579 kg ha− 1 and ₹13,730 ha− 1, respectively) and was counted as a recommended cultivation package. In 2016–2017, the recommended practice showed 60% higher grain yield and 1.16 times more profit than farmers’ practice (1575 kg ha− 1 and ₹14,000 ha− 1, respectively) (P < 0.000). Both total and women’s labour requirement per ha was lower under recommended practice. An endline survey in 2017 revealed improved household consumption over baseline.
Soil salinity is a major abiotic stress that affects global agricultural productivity. Exploring the mechanisms that halophytes employ to thrive and flourish under saline environments is essential to increase the salt tolerance in sensitive crop species. Of the three halophytes used in this study Salicornia brachiata and Suaeda maritima belong to the same family Chenopodiaceae, while Sesuvium portulacastrum, a mangrove-associated halophyte, belongs to the family Aizoaceae. Assuming that halophytes of same family share similar salt tolerance mechanisms, we generated a suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH1) cDNA library from salt-treated leaf tissues of S. brachiata as tester and that of S. maritima as driver to identify salt-responsive genes unique to S. brachiata. To elucidate the difference in salt-tolerance mechanisms, and to identify salt-tolerance mechanisms amongst different families of halophytes, SSH2 library was generated from salt-treated leaf tissue of S. brachiata as tester and that of S. portulacastrum as driver. Totally, 87 and 49 EST clones representing unique genes were obtained from SSH1 and SSH2 libraries, respectively. Examination of the expression patterns of 17 (SSH1) and 15 (SSH2) differentially expressed genes using semi-quantitative RT-PCR confirmed up-regulation of these genes in shoots in response to salt treatment and elevated CO2 condition, but to a different extent. This study has provided insights into the molecular responses of S. brachiata to salt stress and elevated CO2 conditions.
What can a case study of an initiative for empowerment of women farmers tell us about nutrition-sensitive agriculture? Through this case study, the paper highlights how women farmers act as drivers of change and manage to bring about production and consumption diversity, even in a cash crop growing region; how women farmers’ groups serve as important social networks in aiding the spread of these changes; and how bundling of women’s empowerment programmes with agricultural extension has the potential to promote nutrition-sensitive farming. The spread of mixed cropping practices among women farmers was crucially related to the context-specific technical guidance that was provided. Women farmers adopted different cropping pattern designs, integrating pulses, millets and vegetables with cotton/soyabean as main crops. They perceived tangible benefits in terms of enhanced availability of food grains and vegetables for household consumption through mixed cropping practices. The paper brings to light the need for the State to strengthen the agricultural extension system for scaling up nutrition-sensitive agricultural practices among small farmers.
The development of technology and needs of fishing community in the post tsunami context in India created a demand for the development of mobile applications for fisherfolk. The Fisher Friend Mobile Application (Fisher Friend) was introduced in Binary runtime environment for wireless platform for CDMA in three languages to fishermen in two states in 2007. It has now evolved into an android application with a desirable user interface in nine languages covering fisherfolk in coastal India. A participatory approach involving the fishing community and other key stakeholders was followed at every stage in the development of fisher friend and has been central to its evolution and reach as a decision support system, and its user-friendliness besides accuracy of the information. A total of 1026 fisherfolk across three states Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh participated in the pilot phase. The critical feedback from users in the last four years enabled the existing Fisher Friend to evolve through 40 revisions as a Pan-India application. Fisher Friend is now available with the latest technology interface in the Google play store. Currently over 29,000 fisher folk are accessing Fisher Friend from 576 landing centers of 59 coastal districts in nine states of India. A study undertaken among users in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry revealed that 90 percent of fisherfolk found it an important tool for decision-making in times of critical situation as well as in normal times for informed fishing. The use of the app has resulted in reduction of risk from livelihood asset loss in the event of disaster, increased income per trip, resource saving of fuel, and reduced number of fishing days per trip.
The availability of genome sequences for several crops and advances in genome editing approaches has opened up possibilities to breed for almost any given desirable trait. Advancements in genome editing technologies such as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) has made it possible for molecular biologists to more precisely target any gene of interest. However, these methodologies are expensive and time-consuming as they involve complicated steps that require protein engineering. Unlike first-generation genome editing tools, CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing involves simple designing and cloning methods, with the same Cas9 being potentially available for use with different guide RNAs targeting multiple sites in the genome. After proof-of-concept demonstrations in crop plants involving the primary CRISPR-Cas9 module, several modified Cas9 cassettes have been utilized in crop plants for improving target specificity and reducing off-target cleavage (e.g., Nmcas9, Sacas9, and Stcas9). Further, the availability of Cas9 enzymes from additional bacterial species has made available options to enhance specificity and efficiency of gene editing methodologies. This review summarizes the options available to plant biotechnologists to bring about crop improvement using CRISPR/Cas9 based genome editing tools and also presents studies where CRISPR/Cas9 has been used for enhancing biotic and abiotic stress tolerance. Application of these techniques will result in the development of non-genetically modified (Non-GMO) crops with the desired trait that can contribute to increased yield potential under biotic and abiotic stress conditions.
Transformation of rice was done through Agrobacterium mediated, utilizing a binary vector pBS, harboring a fungal gene endo α-1, 3-glucanase from Trichoderma harzianum under rice constitutive promoter actin2 and Agrobacterium nopaline synthase (nos) transcriptional terminator in a T-DNA. Likewise, a selectable marker gene hygromycin phosphotransferese (hpt) resistant to Hygromycin B was cloned in the middle of actin2 and nos terminator in a similar T-DNA. The expression of endo α-1, 3-glucanase was affirmed by cloning gfp gene after the fungal gene in the transformation DNA cassette. In the first generation of transgenic rice lines, out of 912 just 209 plants were false positive affirmed through PCR based screening for the transgene. The positive transgenic lines were tried with fungal infection by leaf cut test in vitro and foliar leaf shower technique in vivo. They demonstrated an exceptional protection against sheath blight disease. Further, seeds of all positive transgenic plants of the first generation were developed and screened in next generation. Just 62 plants were false positive out of 873 transgenic lines in this generation. In the comparative way, they were tried against the fungal disease and they demonstrated the exceptional protection once more. In this way, in this investigation, a fungal gene endo α-1, 3-glucanase was transformed into rice (IR 64) effectively which demonstrated protection against fungus Rhizoctonia solani.
Agriculture in Indiahas been heavily dependent on the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides for the past 4 to 5 decades. Such practices has had negative environmental consequences in terms of reduced ability of the agro-ecosystems in regulating (maintenance of hydrological services, water quality, carbon sequestration) and supporting (soil microbial diversity, soil structure and fertility, nutrient cycling, biological pest control, pollination) Ecosystem Services (ES). Bioeconomy in agriculture, which stresses on supply of food and agricultural outputs through extraction and use of high quality inputs from renewable resources, gains significance in this context. Use of renewable factors of production reduces agriculture-induced environmental impacts, reduces the yield gaps and strengthens agro-ecosystems ability to regulate and support ES. Organic farming approach that promotes bioeconomy in agriculture is highly dependent on diverse soil microflora consisting of beneficial microbes. They facilitate ecological services such as nutrient cycling, disease control, drought tolerance, degradation of organic matter, water lifting etc. Biofertilizers and bio-pesticides are the biological products necessary to augment the soil microflora, in this way they are linked to building bioeconomy in agriculture. The renewable use of bio resources called bio-inputs henceforth primarily offers a mean to reduce the dependence on chemical inputs and sustain the provision of valuable ES. These bio-inputs play an integral role in maintaining soil quality nutrient fixation, mobilization and solubilisation processes, induces abiotic and biotic stress tolerance and manages pest and diseases through maintaining a healthy prey-predator balance in environment. Microbial based bio products are an important input for organic and sustainable agriculture production systems as it works on the same principles as bio-economy and could be considered as an important pathway for promoting bio-economy in agriculture. The recent progress in research and development of microbial consortium and microbiome approaches adds value to the use of bio-inputs in agriculture. This paper is an attempt to detail the processes through which the principles of bioeconomy in the soil ecosystem could be effectively harnessed to achieve productivity in perpetuity by the use of renewable microbial bio resources.
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96 members
Jegan Sekar
  • Department of Microbiology
Thiagarajan Jayaraman
  • Climate change
D J Nithya
  • Agriculture Nutrition and Health
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